• Published 9th Jan 2016
  • 7,337 Views, 354 Comments

Distorted Resonance - Tangent

Crystal Synergy used to be a middle-aged brony before she appeared in Ponyville in a bolt from the clear blue sky. She only wants to help...

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Distorted Beginnings: Chapter One

A brief flash of green flame resolved itself into a scroll in front of Moon Dancer. Picking it up with her magic, she examined it, and noted that the outer edge had something written on it.

If this works, then this letter has appeared before Moon Dancer, who may read it immed promp right now. If this letter has reached Princess Celestia or anypony else, please forward it to Moon Dancer as soon as possible.

“It’s a letter from Twilight,” Moon Dancer stated glumly. “This means she’s probably not coming to my party.”

“Well, read it!” Minuette urged. “She did say that something had come up, after all. Maybe the letter explains it!”

“Point,” Moon Dancer conceded. Clearing her throat briefly, she unfurled the scroll and began reading it out loud, so Minuette, Twinkleshine, and Lemon Hearts could hear as well.

“Dear Moon Dancer,
First, let me apolo say I’m sorry for being unable to attend your party. I would have come in pony to let you know, but I am even now writing this from the sky chariot that is taking me directly to Ponyville on an assignment from Princess Celestia to oversee the preparations there for the Summer Sun Celebration. An abrupt, and very much unwelcome assignment, as it not only means that I will be missing your party, but it also negates my previous and much more perti important reason for doing so: the imi immin that Nightmare Moon may be returning sometime tomorrow! Seriously, Spike, did you even read the thesa thesh wordy book of words I got you? Argh! Why are you writing that? It’s not part-"

“I see Spike is still working on his dictations skills,” Lemon Hearts commented.

“Or possibly his trolling skills,” Minuette observed.

“If you don’t mind, there’s more to the letter,” Moon Dancer interjected.

“Sorry,” Minuette apologized.

“Please continue,” Lemon Hearts added.

“Okay… Skipping the rest of the rant… ah, hear we go: Anyway, while Spike and I will try to conduct some research in Ponyville once we’ve seen to our assigned duties there. Fortunately, Princess Celestia has at least granted me access to the living quarters in Ponyville’s Golden Oaks Library for the duration of the event. I hesitate to ask you to do this on your birthday, but if you see fit to do so, could you please gather the others and continue the research on your end in Canterlot? The books you need to start with should still be laying open to the correct pages in my quarters.

“Once again, I am really sorry that I couldn’t come to your party.

“Your friend,
“Twilight Spackle.”

“Pfft!” Minuette tried (and failed) to hold in her laughter. “That little so-and-so! He is messing with Twilight!

“I hope he doesn’t do that when he’s taking letters for the Princess,”

“The post script says that the presents they got me are on the table next to the door, and that I’m welcome to pick them up at any time.”

“Well, what are we waiting for?” Minuette exclaimed. “Let’s go get your presents, and see what set off Spackle this time!”

“Sparkle,” Moon Dancer corrected.

“Whatever,” Minuette shrugged it off. “Let’s grab the party stuff and head on over! May as well have your party and do the research.”

“Yeah,” Twinkleshine agreed. “Whatever it is can’t be that bad if the Princess dismissed it and sent her off on an unrelated assignment.”

“Should we really be holding a party at Twilight’s place without her there?” Lemon Hearts asked. “Or without even asking first?”

“So we just clean up afterwards,” Minuette replied dismissively. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

*O o O o O*

Twilight tried to restrain a groan as the surprise party that the locals were throwing for her in the Golden Oaks Library continued unabated. The ponies in Ponyville were really nice, if somewhat strange, and she really couldn’t bring herself to try to dampen their spirits during what might be the last time any of them would feel like partying for a long time to come. Especially over something that might not even come to pass.

Princess Celestia had blown her off and sent her to Ponyville after all.

Absently, she poured herself a drink from a bottle on the snack table, only to find the cup held firmly to the table by the cyan aura of another unicorn’s magic.

“Might not want to drink that straight up,” the owner of the aura stated, humor evident in her voice. “Even Pinkie Pie avoids drinking hot sauce directly. She probably put it there to put on the cupcakes or other snacks.”

“Yupperoonie!” the curly maned pink earth pony that Twilight had first encountered just after arriving in Ponyville agreed cheerfully. “It’s really good!”

“I’ll take your word for it,” Twilight replied, grateful for having avoided the experience. A little hot sauce was okay as a condiment from time to time, but she wasn’t feeling adventurous enough to consider actually drinking it.

Which the white unicorn with the short blue mane just did.

“Dare I even ask what you are drinking, Crystal?” Rarity asked as she approached. “The only bottles on this table should be condiments. The beverages are on the table with the punch bowl. Which is where I found the bottle of chilli sauce you brought.”

“So that’s where it got off to!” Crystal exclaimed cheerfully, even as she brought over the indicated bottle with her aura and poured some of it into the cup that still had some of the other hot sauce in it.

Twilight cocked a brow as she noted Crystal’s short mane take on the likeness of blue flames. And was that an actual red glow coming from what had been cyan irises?

“Gonna have to remember that combination,” Crystal commented, as a puff of steam escaped her lips. “That’s going into my next batch of chilli! Sweetie Belle will love it!”

“Just warn me ahead of time so I can stock up on fresh bread and milk,” Rarity requested in a tone of resignation.

“You’re just jealous because Sweetie Belle and Dad inherited my love of spicy food,” Crystal teased as her glowing red eyes faded back to their normal cyan hue and her mane lost it’s flame-like appearance.

“Crystal, dear…” Rarity chided. “I keep telling you. That’s not how fostering works.”

“Sure it is,” Crystal shot back, grinning cheerfully.

Twilight shook her head in bemusement as the two… she guessed that they counted as sisters, even though one was apparently fostered into the family of the other… as the two sisters playfully snarked at each other. She absently snagged a few greenish vegetable chips from one of the snack bowls and idly munched on them.

Moments later, a white hot unicorn with glowing red eyes and a mane and tail that appeared to be real flames let out a small breath of fire and rushed for the punch bowl.

“Oh yeah, I meant to tell you. I brought jalapeño chips! Did you like them?” Crystal asked Twilight, who was too busy trying to cool her mouth down to actually respond.

“Crystal, I thought I told you to clearly label the bowls if you were going to bring those,” Rarity admonished.

“I did!” Crystal insisted.

“I don’t see any labels,” Rarity pointed out.

“That’s odd,” Pinkie commented. “They were in the bowls when I poured the chips into them!”

Crystal and Rarity both put a hoof to their own faces, as Twilight retreated up to the Library’s residential apartment after drinking half the punch in an effort to sooth her burning tongue and lip…

*O o O o O*

This was it.

This was the first moment Crystal had been looking forward to with both dread and excitement. The moment where whatever chaos butterflies caused by her mere arrival in Equestria met the crushing momentum of history.

Crystal’s indecision on whether or not to interfere with the general course of events as she remembered them, and then how to do so once she realized that she couldn’t live with herself if she didn’t try to do something about some of the biggest disasters she remembered from the show had weighed heavily on her. It didn’t help matters that her memories of canon and fanon events had blurred together over the years, freely mixing with her own studies of Equestrian history from her education as a filly.

That same indecision about just what to do is what lead to her intermittent attempts to send warnings with varying levels of clarity and vagueness to the one pony in Equestria she was reasonably sure was both in a position to actually do anything about them and experienced enough to decide whether or not to do anything about them.

Crystal’s decision on using crayon drawings as the medium for these warnings had initially been due to her early inability to write legibly as a filly. That, and wax crayons tasted better than quills, ink-tainted or otherwise. Then, by the time she could read her own writing, she had already sent enough crayon drawings to the Princess that she just stuck with using colored wax as her medium of choice. It somehow felt like the right decision, however illogical it might seem.

Besides, crayons were inexpensive, and gave her an activity to share with both Sweetie Belle and Rarity. Granted, Rarity tended to use crayon time as just another format in the creative process of designing, but it still counted as participation as far as Sweetie Belle was concerned, so Crystal was happy to contribute as many crayons as needed to be sacrificed to the cause of sisterly bonding.

Frustration over the crude quality of the drawings and her barely improved writing ability, as well as her inherent inability to know if any of them even reached Celestia had led Crystal to stop sending them for a while.

The first time she had broken her personal rule about limiting her alcoholic intake had been the day she discovered that Barley’s Diner and Delicatessen, an establishment she herself had hypothesized about in her previous life, was real in whatever version of Equestria she had ended up in.* Her foster parents had not been pleased to discover that she had gotten into their liquor cabinet and had drank half of what was left of the bottle of Sweet Apple Acres Zapapple Whiskey she had found tucked away behind the various wines and brandies.

An incident that had led to Rarity taking both Sweetie Belle and Crystal in at the Canterlot Botique while Cookie Crumples supervised as Hondo Flanks poured every last drop of alcohol down the drain. Sweetie Belle had moved back in with her parents after a few days, but Crystal had ended up staying with Rarity and living under the rules that her foster sister had set, even though they were both about the same age as far as anypony could figure out. Hondo, Cookie, and Crystal did reconcile after a few months, although by then Crystal had chosen to continue living as her foster sister's housemate.

So Crystal had gone back to strictly limiting herself to just one drink before switching to a nonalcoholic beverage. Now with Rarity's added rules of "never drink alone, never drink around fillies, colts, and foals, and, for Celestia’s sake, talk about your problems with somepony! Anypony!" Even if she couldn’t talk to her foster family about them.

Crystal had openly cried for the first time in years that night**. It had been cathartic, even if her ramblings had been incoherent amidst the sobs.

And so Crystal resumed sending her anonymous packages of crayon drawings, now of a much better quality and with legible writing, to Princess Celestia. She had even shown Rarity some of them. Mostly the ones depicting the crystal ponies and the Crystal Empire because she thought Rarity would appreciate them. As far as Crystal could tell, Rarity simply thought that they were wonderful flights of artistic expression.

A notion that Crystal chose not to disabuse her foster sister of.

And now, as everypony had gathered in the town hall to wait for Princess Celestia’s grand entrance, Crystal once again found herself desiring to be anything but sober…

*O o O o O*

“Fillies and gentlecolts, as mayor of Ponyville, it is my great pleasure to announce the beginning of the Summer Sun Celebration!” This statement was met with cheers from most of the attending ponies, with the exceptions being the ever stoic Royal Guard as well as Twilight Sparkle and Crystal, who were both worried for similar reasons.

“In just a few moments,” the mayor continued, “Our town will witness the magic of the sunrise, and celebrate this, the longest day of the year! And now, it is my great honor to introduce to you the ruler of our land, the very pony who gives us the sun and the moon each and every day, the Good, the Wise, the Bringer of Harmony to all of Equestria… Princess Celestia!”

And, with that, Rarity pulled the curtain cord, revealing an empty balcony. This, naturally, resulted in confused murmurings from the attending crowd.

“This can’t be good,” Twilight observed worriedly.

“Stay calm, everypony,” the mayor urged. “There must be a reasonable explanation.”

“Ooh! Ooh!” Pinkie Pie started hopping in place excitedly. “Is she hiding?”

“She’s gone!” stated Rarity, who had come back out onto the balcony after checking the room and hall behind it. This elicited a gasp from most of the crowd.

“Ooh, she’s good!” Pinkie Pie concluded, apparently impressed rather than concerned.

And then nearly everypony gasped again as sparkling dark blue mist rolled onto the balcony and then quickly dispersed, reveling a black alicorn with blue on blue cat-like eyes, a mane and tail like waving star fields, and wearing a silver helm and peytral. The emblem on the peytral matched the crescent moon cutie mark on her flanks.

“Oh, my beloved subjects,” the black alicorn began. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen your precious little sun-loving faces.”

“What did you do with our princess?” Rainbow Dash demanded, just before attempting to perform a flying charge. An effort stopped by Applejack clamping her teeth on the pegasus’s tail.

“Whoa there, Nelly,” Applejack admonished.

“Nelly? I thought her name was Rainbow Dash,” Crystal snarked, not terribly worried despite the dire situation, as she doubted that Nightmare Moon seriously wanted to hurt anypony at this point.

“You do know her name is Rainbow Dash, right?” Pinkie Pie asked Applejack in a moderately concerned tone.

Not the time, you two!” Applejack grumbled.

Nightmare Moon cocked a brow at the byplay, noting that the frizzy maned pink earth pony and the short maned white unicorn were perhaps the only two ponies present who did not seem to be either alarmed or angry.

“Oh yeah, before I forget,” Crystal commented, using her aura to present Darth Goth with a large envelope.

Curious, Nightmare Moon opened it and pulled out a crayon drawing of herself as Luna, standing majestically under a full moon set in a beautifully rendered night sky, while surrounded by many happy ponies that resembled some of the currently gathered audience. At the bottom of the picture was the legend: Celebrate the Night.

“I… I see,” Nightmare Moon stammered briefly, before gathering herself. “You have given me much to think about. Thank you.” And with that, she turned into sparkling dark blue mist, leaving just as abruptly as she had arrived.

“What was that?” Applejack demanded, finally letting go of Rainbow Dash’s tail.

“She looked like she needed something to cheer her up,” Crystal replied. “So I gave her one of my drawings.” Noting that Twilight Sparkle was leaving the auditorium, she trotted after the purple pony.

“And just where do you think you’re going, Missy?” Applejack asked, chasing after Crystal.

“It’s Crystal,” Crystal chided. “And I’m following Purple Smart, since it looks like she knows something.”

“I thought her name was Twilight Sparkle?” Pinkie asked as she hopped along beside them.

“Seriously not the time, you two,” Applejack stated.

“Synergy,” Crystal snarked back, picking up speed once she spotted Rarity and Fluttershy joining their small group. She idly wondered why the timid pegasus had joined them at this point, both now and in the original canon, but didn’t think it was prudent to bring it up at this time. “Crystal Synergy.”

“Must we do this again?” Rarity asked, huffing slightly as she and Fluttershy caught up.

“Yes!” Pinkie and Crystal replied together cheerfully.

“Something tells me it’s going to be a long night,” Applejack sighed as they approached the Golden Oaks Library.

“Oh, you have no idea,” Crystal agreed, watching Rainbow Dash charge into the tree-turned-building.

*Later finding out that one of her friends was actually named Bubbles rather than either the canon 'Muffin' or the fanon 'Derpy' or 'Ditzy,' was just the icing on the cake of awkward revelations. Especially as Crystal had been calling Bubbles 'Muffin' for years by that point, after resolving not to use any nickname for her unless she knew her friend liked it. Fortunately, Bubbles had just thought it was one of the more pleasant nicknames, and actually didn't mind having it used as such.

**This isn't accurate as Crystal had, in fact, cried earlier. She had also ended up inadvertently serenading half of Ponyville with a drunken heartsong (her first ever) after drinking that half-bottle of zapapple whiskey. A sad rendition of Gypsy Bard from her memories of the MLP: Friendship is Witchcraft parody. Which, given the total lack of context, gave many Ponyville residents, including her foster family, several mistaken ideas about the past she never talks about. Not that Crystal is aware of the misconception as she doesn't actually remember that bit with any clarity. Which is just as well, since she wouldn't know what to do about it anyway.

What Crystal does remember (although really really she wishes that she didn't), is spending the next morning in the boutique's levorotary literally pissing lightning and farting rainbows. Foul smelling rainbows, but still rainbows. Exactly as she had described the potential side effects caused by overindulging in zapapple whiskey in her previous life. Both the experience and the realization were painfully unpleasant.

Author's Note:

And here's the link to the afore mentioned Barly's Diner: Barly's Diner & Delicatessen