• Published 22nd Aug 2016
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A Changeling in Friendship - Dreams of Ponies



A short, but wild ride with Null the changeling, as he delves into the magic that is Twilight and friends.

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Denial and Disaster

An ocean of starlight surrounded me, transforming into comets as I spun around, confused by this development. I heard the sound of hoof steps behind me, and then turned to see a butter yellow pegasus step out of the ether. She tilted her head down, waves of her pink mane falling to cover half of her face. She slowly exited the shadows, looking at me from the corner of her eye.

"Um, excuse me. I don't mean to be rude, but, who are you?" she said softly, causing me to have to strain to hear her.

Guess I would just play along, this was probably part of the puzzle.

"Hello. I'm Null, and who might you be?" I said, holding up a hoof. She took a small step forward and gently shook it.

"My name is Fluttershy. I'm supposed to tell you the rules," she said, dragging her hoof across fabric of reality. It rippled out like a rock thrown into a pond, for this was not actually a representation of space, but a reflective pool of the mind.

"What kind of rules would those be?" I asked, a little confused.

"Well," Fluttershy said softly, "Twilight knew it was possible that this might happen one day, but instead of removing the invader, she would rather learn more about them."

"So.....what do you want me to do?" I asked her. I'm starting to see where this is going.

"Before I show you this memory, I want to ask you a question, and we hope you'll give an honest answer," she said, giving me a weak smile.

Not sure what the real point of this is, but the sooner we get this over with, the better. "Alright, ask away then," I said, gesturing to her to continue.

"Um, okay. Thank you," she paced around the star drenched world, each step sending waves across the mirror-like ground. After a moment of thought, she turned to face me, adopting a more determined look.

"Have you ever done anything for someone, just because it felt good inside, because it seemed like a nice thing to do?"

I stood there for a minute, allowing my brain to process the question. Such action would be considered a ridiculous notion in the hive, a useless sentiment at best, and weakness or mental illness at worse.

I said as much to her, watching her expression change from a small smile to a sad frown, which was punctuated by the slow closing of her eyes.

"I'm sorry to hear that, Null. I hope that maybe, one day, you'll experience kindness for yourself."

Fluttershy turned away from me in a whirl of pink hair. She walked off into the void, slowly melding with the darkness. The moment she was gone, I felt myself fall downwards into what felt like a bone-chilling lake. I looked around to try to orient my position, and after a moment of searching, spotted a small light below me.

I swam down, or what seemed like a downward direction to me, towards the slowly growing light. The closer I got, the warmer my chitin became. The light expanded outwards as I approached, my eyes taking in its cloudy texture. I pushed myself forward, propelling my body through the water-like substance.

With a puff and a kick, I managed to poke my head through the fluffy barrier. The change in lighting disoriented me momentarily, before I blinked rapidly which helped my eyes adjusted. Taking in my surroundings, I saw Twilight Sparkle and her friends huddled around a bed. At least I thought I could identify everypony, according to the reports. Sitting up in the bed, facing everypony with tears in her eyes, was who I could recognized as Rainbow Dash.

This memory was frozen in time, everypony looking at Rainbow Dash in a perpetual state of concern. I reached out and touched the scene with my magic, and watched as the event unfolded before me.

"How are you feeling, Rainbow Dash?" Fluttershy asked, her presence practically dripping with compassion.

Rainbow Dash turned her head away from Fluttershy, "Whatever..." she said, as I sensed waves of negative emotion wafting from her.

The one known as Rarity leaned over to Twilight Sparkle, and said, "The poor thing looks so sad! Just what are we doing to do?"

Twilight Sparkle shrugged, looking at the back of Rainbows head with concern, "I don't know what we can do."

The blond earth pony we identified as Applejack stepped forward next to Fluttershy, "Buck up, Sugar cube. You just ain't yourself these days."

Rainbow responded with an even more despondent, "Whatever," to Applejack, who frowned at the cyan pegasus.

Rarity came closer, before pursing her lips and then said, "Uh, how can I say this tactfully? You've lost your sparkle, Rainbow Dash."

The reportedly normal pink party pony named Pinkie Pie then leaned forward to whisper, "I hate to say this, but, well... you've become, a party pooper!"

Rainbow then glared at the group intensely, "Didn't you hear me? I said 'whatever'. I don't know if you're here to cheer me up or what, but I'm fine."

Fluttershy stepped up, her heart filled with conviction. "Let me handle this.” She looked Rainbow Dash straight in the face, and said, “Rainbow Dash, your winter is going to be pet-less."

The room went still for a moment, before Rainbow Dash burst into tears, bawling while every pony’s eyes went from Fluttershy to Rainbow Dash and back again.

As the scene continued to play in front of me, I observed an almost unbearable amount of kindness, love, and compassion emanating from Fluttershy. Her drive to aid others, especially in their time of need, was the pillar of her character. It was also the core of this memory, from what I could tell. If I were to disrupt the Twilight's mental protections, I would have to start with unraveling this memory.

I touched the fabric of the dream-space with my magic and the scene reverted back to just before Fluttershy confronted Rainbow. As she stepped up, I leeched the conviction and compassion from her, drawing it into myself as I watched her face droop downwards. Instead of speaking up, she simply and slowly walked backwards, becoming one with the scenery.

The world shifted in a hazy blur, and I found myself standing in a small clearing, observing everypony gathered around something in a circle. I could hear some ponies sob, as well as see Rarity blow her nose with a tissue.

Suddenly, there was a burst of noise, "Don't you look at me like that!" screamed Rainbow Dash. "I just wanted to spend winter with my best friend, I never wanted this..." Rainbow Dash trailed off.

I buzzed my wings, taking to the air as I moved over to observe what was between them. A small grave had been dug into the earth, in which was placed a small ornate green blanket. I couldn't tell what it was covering, but it seemed that Rainbow Dash was absolutely distraught about it.

"It's my fault, it's all my fault," Rainbow Dash said, looking down at the ground. Applejack moved towards her, reaching a hoof out for Rainbow's shoulder. Rainbow knocked it away, glaring at Applejack, "Don't you of all ponies try to tell me that it's not, A.J., you know better than to try and lie to me. Rainbow turned and the bolted into the sky, leaving a wave of self-loathing and angry rainbow dust in her wake.

Then with a sudden headache inducing swirl of color, I was thrown backwards, landing against the wall of Twilight's chamber of inner thought. As I got up carefully, my gaze fell upon Fluttershy's Pedestal. The room around me shook slightly as I could see the pedestal's line of magic fade as the Pink butterflies faded to gray. I got up to walk around the room and I thought I noticed a change in the feel of the room. The light of the room had faded, and I could feel a difference in the atmosphere.

I moved forward with my tasks, setting my sights on the pedestal that held Rainbow Dash's memory. I'm not entirely sure what drew me to that particular book, it might not have even been a conscious decision. I stepped up to the rainbow colored insignia, and reached out with a hoof to open the book. With a rush of air and the sound of water being sucked down a drain, I was pulled into the memory.

---

I walked across the dark waters of memory, looking into the endless, star-filled universe of Twilight's mind. I stood there for a moment, waiting for what I figured would be a similar appearance from one of the princess's friends.

I didn't have to wait long. With the sound of rustling feathers and a splash of water, the rainbow haired mare landed right in front of me. Rainbow Dash didn't look happy either, judging by her fierce scowl, or the way she was crouching like she was about to tackle me.

"Listen here, bub, I know this is how Twilight wants things done, but that doesn't mean I have to be nice about it," Rainbow dash fumed. I took a small step back from the heated pegasus, and decided just listen for now. "Now I'm going to ask you a question and you're going to answer it like a good little bug. And after that I'll show you a memory of how awesome I am, and then you can leave."

I was nodding as she detailed the rules to me, but stopped abruptly at that last bit. "Leave?" I said, looking at her confused.

"Yeah, leave," Rainbow dash repeated, "I don't like you, and I can tell how all this is slowly affecting Twilight."

"And if I don't leave?" I said, taking a step up to meet her in the eye.

"Then you might end up regretting meddling in my friend's mind," Rainbow Dash said, narrowing her eyes slightly.

I huffed at her, sitting down and saying, "Just ask your question already, so we can move on."

"Fine." Rainbow dash hovered into the air above me, staring down as she acted the part of an interrogator. "Changelings have their own set of principles right?" I nodded to her, figuring that this was just a leading question. "Well then, here's my question: Would you violate your own morals and principles if you thought it would impress someone that you respected?"

"That's a pretty interesting question," I said, looking at Rainbow Dash, who gave only a slight hint of a smile. "Well, if I had to give a quick answer, I would say that no, I wouldn't. The hive has a shared set of ethics and principles, and we all live by them. If any-ling would go against that for personal gain, they would be ostracized from our society." I watched Rainbow's face shift through a variety of emotions.

"Fine, I guess that's good enough for Twilight, anyway," she said before launching into the air. I watched as she sped through the air, before turning to fly around me in a circle. She flew faster and faster, a rainbow hue of magic forming around me in a cyclone. I felt myself turn and spin around with it, unable to resist the massive pull it produced. After about ten seconds, I felt dizzy and nauseous, the world around me slowly coming to a stop.

As my vision cleared, I saw that I was on a sort of runway, the blue clear sky dominating my vision. I could see clouds floating about, as well as see a number of ponies in uniform flying around a track of sorts. Suddenly I heard a whirling sound, and then looked up to see a small twister forming in the air. A pair of blurring colors whisked around it, guiding it along to obliterate clouds in its wake. As I stood and watched, I spotted two figures thrown out of the force of nature, which raged on, completely unchecked.

I stared in surprise as a small purple balloon, which was carrying a basket of ponies emerged from the cloud curtain. The twister was barreling towards them, before it quickly sucked the whole balloon and basket in a single gulp. A moment later, I heard ropes snap and a familiar pastel grouping of ponies were hurled out into the sky. After a yell of terror, I could see a rainbow blur dash down into the clouds after them.

I buzzed my wings, moving towards the end of the runway to see what happened. Before I had moved more than a few feet, the group of ponies were flung back into the air, where the uniformed pegasi dashed over to catch them. As everypony landed on the ground, Rainbow dash flew over to them. Pinkie Pie jumped into Rainbow's hooves as the pair of ponies shared a moment together. Then a pegasus with an orange and gold mane, with a formation of gold stars as a cutie mark, rushed over to them. I hovered closer in time to catch the conversation.

"That... was... awesome!" Called the golden maned mare.

Rainbow Dash scowled at her, before saying, "Awesome? My friends could have been smashed to pieces!"

"Yeah, but they weren't, right? Can't say the same for the clouds. We totally wiped them out with that tornado. The other cadets will have to be up there for days to bust as many as we did," she said before holding a hoof outwards towards Rainbow dash.

Rainbow's anger simmered like a bowl of five alarm chili as she pushed the hoof away, "A hoof bump? Seriously? You made me clip my wing! You sent half of our class into serious tailspins on the obstacle course, and then you unleashed a tornado that nearly demolished my friends!"

The mare looked at her flatly and then said, "Yeah, and?"

I was Rainbow Dash slump a bit, her righteousness faltering, "And I get that you want to be the best. So do I! But you're going about it in the wrong way!”

The golden mare scoffed at her, "The Wonderbolts don't seem to think so. After all, Spitfire did make me the leader and you the wingpony."

Rainbow Dash sighed, looking away from the mare as she said, "You're right. She did."

The world shifted around me, like being suddenly pushed off a high cliff, and then landing less than a second later. I stood next to Rainbow Dash, who, seemingly unaware of my presence, was staring at an office door. She took a deep breath and entered. A pegasus mare in a military uniform with flaming hair, whom I presumed to be Spitfire, look up from behind her desk as we entered.

"This better be important. You're supposed to be up there busting clouds with your partner," she said to Rainbow as she stepped closer.

"We're done with that, ma'am," Rainbow Dash said, giving her a salute.

"Already?" Spitfire says, looking back at a clock on the wall. "That's an academy record." Looking back at Rainbow dash, she says,"Explain your methods."

"That's why I'm here, ma'am. Lightning Dust decided to use a tornado," Rainbow Dash said, keeping her voice even.

Spitfire seemed unaware of Rainbows building emotions as she continued evenly, "A bit excessive for cloud-busting. But judging from your time, it was obviously an effective tactic."

Rainbow Dash stormed up to the desk, "Yeah, well that effective tactic nearly took out my friends! No disrespect, ma'am, but there's a big difference between pushing yourself as hard as you can and just being reckless. And if being reckless is what gets rewarded around here, if that's what it means to be a Wonderbolt, then I don't want any part of it."

Spitfire's eyes had narrowed while Rainbow Dash spoke, a scowl making its way across her amber face. "What are you saying, newbie?"

Rainbow pulled a silver winged emblem from her uniform and placed it on Spitfire's desk. "I quit." Rainbow turned and then walked out of the office, leaving a wide-eyed Spitfire staring as she left. I followed Rainbow Dash out, feeling her emotions frenzy over each other as her adrenaline wore off. Her eyes go wide, after which she hangs her head.

I observed the rest of the memory, as Spitfire chased Rainbow Dash out onto the runway, and then chastised Lightning Dust for her rash actions and reckless ambition. Rainbow Dash was given a promotion for her high code of ethics, and everypony was happy, except for Lightning Dust.

Well, it's time to dismantle this memory as well. I thought back to Rainbow's earlier question about moral principle, and then decided on the best way to proceed. I tapped into the dream magic, rewinding back to just before Rainbow Dash entered the office. She stood there, hovering between her life's ambition and her own moral code. As I could feel the sense of righteousness start to win out over self-interest, I sapped her with my magic. I drew in her respect for herself, and the pride that came with being loyal to her friends.

The result was pretty much how I predicted, as I watched Rainbow Dash slump down and and slowly walk away. The world flashed forward, dragging me with it. I saw Rainbow Dash and Lightning Dust flying together, racing around the track. They wove between hoops, dipping and turning before they flew downward in a dive. I could see a hoop close to the ground as they sped quickly towards it.

The air began to distort around Rainbow's hooves, as her whole body seemed to compress before she exploded forward, sending a wave of rainbows out from beside and behind her. Lightning Dust, who had been trying to beat her to the hoop, was blown off course and then sent into a tail spin. I watched in awe as the golden blur was thrown at an insane speed into small cliff side. I flinched at the impact, knowing the damage that could have been done, regardless of the fact that this was a dream.

The world flashed again, and I was once again in Spitfire's office, staring at a crying Rainbow Dash and a furious Spitfire.

"Your actions were stupid, reckless and could have killed somepony, Rainbow Dash. Now, what do you have to say for yourself?" Spitfire boomed over the crying cyan mare.

"I-I just wanted to show you, to show everypony, that I could be a leader too!" Rainbow Dash stammered.

"And look at what happened! Just because you want something that badly doesn't mean you can disregard the possible repercussions of your actions!” Spitfire retorted. She stepped closer to Rainbow Dash, her eyes almost aflame as she loomed over the shrinking pony. "Lightning Dust may never fly again after that fall, because of you! Now, as Captain of the Wonderbolts, I hereby discharge you from our reserve ranks, and ban you from any future applications."

I stood as Rainbow turned and ran out of the office, big wet splotches falling from her as she fled.

I guess that will suffice.

---

Like being thrown by a twister, I was ejected from the memory back onto the marble floor of Twilight's mind. I watched as the line of magic faded in sync with the rainbow hues of Rainbow Dash's memory. The room gave a rumble, tossing me around like a doll.

Perhaps Twilight had shifted in her sleep?

I felt a little strange as I walked over to continue my mission. An uneasiness was creeping into the back of my mind and I couldn't tell if it was just paranoia or something else entirely. Either way, there was only one route forward, and that way to proceed as planned.

I stepped up to the representation of Applejack's memory, opened it with my magic, and the world swirled away.

Author's Note:

Hey everypony, I hope you didn't get too down reading this, but I did leave a warning at the end of the last chapter. That aside, These should go a little faster now that I have my head better wrapped around the story. Please stay tuned until the end, because it's the culmination of experiences that define a journey, not just one single part. I love you all, and have a good night.