• 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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Tea and Cupcakes

I was thrown into the void as if I had been shot from a cannon. I felt something gripping my horn, and then looked up to see Pinkie Pie dragging me through the ether. She was staring out ahead of us, a look of pure bliss and joy across her face. As I observed her closed eyes and glowing cheeks, I concluded that it was the most peaceful I had ever seen her. The wind whipped through her mane, the two of us flying forward towards an unknown destination.

As we continued to soar through the nothingness, I closed my eyes and allowed myself to relax just a bit. The wind that shouldn't exist brushed across my mental self, and I sighed as my mind uncoiled from the mountain of magical stress that had built up. Then I heard Pinkie Pie giggle, after which I opened my eyes to see her smiling down at me. It was one of the most surreal experiences in my life, and considering where I was, and what had happened in the last few hours, that was definitely saying something.

We somehow came to a smooth landing as I felt blades of grass brush against my chitin. I gawked at the sudden appearance of two comfy cushions, along with a table complete with cake and cups of what smelt like tea. Pinkie released her grip on me and moved to one of the cushions. With a simple wave of the hoof, she gestured me to take a seat on the other side of the table. I moved wordlessly as she directed, and fell into the cushion with a puffing sound.

"So, now what?' I asked, not quite meeting her eyes.

"Now we eat, Silly Billy. This my own little party for you," said Pinkie Pie, after which she took a cup of tea into her hoof and sipped it.

"A party for me? Why? Is my being here something to celebrate?" I asked, my voice punctuating my confusion.

"It's your 'Welcome to Twilight's Mind' party," she said cheerfully. I blinked rapidly, trying to comprehend the fuzzy pink logic. "I mean, I know what you’re doing isn't a good thing, but Twilight said she's okay with it. So I have to try to be okay with it too," she continued while setting her cup back onto the table.

"Uh, I guess it's fine then," I said uncertainly, "I guess I'm still a little surprised that Twilight would knowingly allow me into her thoughts."

"Well, she doesn't know you're here right now, but she thought this kind of thing could happen one day, so that's why we're talking." Pinkie Pie pirouetted while picking up a plate full of pastry. "So, we're going to enjoy some cake while I talk about Twilight, and then I'll ask you one simple question."

"I'd really rather just get on with it, Pinkie Pie, if that's possible," I answered as she brought me a large slice of multi layered pastry. As Pinkie laid the plate in front of me, she bent her neck down to look me directly in the eyes. It was in this moment, as I gazed into her eyes, that I truly understood where the fires of Tartarus burned. "Never mind," I muttered, after staving off a shudder of panic. I enveloped the plate in my magic, and retrieved a fork from the table, and then partook of the magical marvel of morsels.

"MMM," I said as I slowly chewed. Changelings don't have to eat much solid food, as it doesn't nourish us like emotional food, but this tasted better than anything I'd ever eaten. After swallowing, I said as much to Pinkie Pie, to which she smiled and nodded.

"It's one of my favorite recipes, I've been preparing it for years, just for this moment." Pinkie Pie took a bite herself, and after she was finished dealing with the euphoria it seemed to bring upon her, she opened her mouth to say, "It's not like I had anything better to do, you know, being stuck here in Twilight's mind."

My mouth hung open in shock, my fork hovering inches in front of me, "You mean to tell me you've been awake here for all this time?" Pinkie Pie simply smiled at me, before taking another bite of confectionery goodness.

"Twilight is a good pony, and an amazing friend, but even she has memories that she keeps hidden," Pinkie Pie said solemnly. "That's why we're here: to guard her mind, from outsiders like you, or even from herself."

"I'm starting to understand a little, I guess," I said, before I finished off my own little plate of perfection.

"I don't care if I'm stuck here, because that's just how much Twilight means to me, but she is also keeping certain secrets locked away."

Pinkie Pie got up from her chair, moving towards me with determination. "Twilight is the smartest pony I know, and even she needs help sometimes, but the magic keeps me from trying to leave this place."

"What does this have to do with me, Pinkie?" I asked her, my eyes slowly growing wider as this conversation continued.

"Listen to me, Null, Twilight does have a secret, but she's not just hiding it from everypony; she's even deceiving herself." She took a deep breath, and moved to look me dead in the eyes again, but this time her gaze was of a concerned friend, an almost pleading look, "I know you have your mission, and that after this, you still might cause us problems, but I hope you can help Twilight."

I swallowed hard as she turned away from me, before murmuring, "I'm still not sure what you expect me to do, Pinkie, I have my orders," I said, before standing up from my cushion. "But if there is indeed a secret buried here, I will find it."

Pinkie Pie slowed turned around at my words, and as her face came into view, I felt something crack inside me. Beautiful glittering tears streamed down her face as she smiled back at me.

"Thank you, Null. That's all I could want," her voice rasped out, which made my chest seize in a strange way. "Null, I'm ready to ask my question," she sniffed, before brushing a few tears off her face.

"Okay, I'll answer whatever it is you want to know, Guardian Pinkie Pie," I stated sincerely.

"Alright, here it is: Why... is your name Null?"

I almost fell over in response, catching myself, I looked up at her and said, "That's it? That's all you want to know?" Pinkie Pie nodded to me, before reaching down to scoop up another slice of cake. "Alright then, but can you fix me another slice as well? This story won’t be so bland if I'm eating something so wonderful." Pinkie Pie passed me another plate as I returned to my seat.

"I've been told since I was born that I was a compete waste of space. Not from any action I took, but from the fact that I had no purpose. I wasn't born with the skills to be a tunneler, or the might of a warrior caste. I couldn't even disguise myself properly. All of this was determined upon my birth, that I would be good at nothing. So that is what they named me—Nothing."

Pinkie Pie gazed at me barely blinking, before she said, "But wait, I thought your name was Null?"

I nodded solemnly to her, "Yes, ‘Null’ means nothing. It's the name I chose for myself after years of strife. You see, Pinkie, I am the hive’s greatest user of a specialized magic. I was born with nothing inside me, no hope, no talent, and certainly no real magical ability, but because I had nothing, I found that my mind was more free than others. Without the normal restrictions of changeling castes, I went on to discover I could use the most elusive magic in the world: Oneiromancy."

I stood up, setting my plate and fork down on the table and started to pace as Pinkie Pie looked on while I spoke, "This magic that was solely my own in the hive was eventually discovered by Queen Chrysalis herself, and so I was called to her throne room. When I arrived she joked that there was nothing written down for my name, so I was allowed to chose another more suited to my talents. So I chose Null, for it was what I felt was the most appropriate that I could have taken. I trained for a few years after that, leading up to the Invasion of Canterlot, but this here, is the biggest responsibility to the hive I've ever been given, and I cannot fail.

"I am nothing, Pinkie Pie, but my purpose and my mission." I said with finality.

"I think that you're wrong, Null, but you might need a little help to figure it out for yourself," she said cryptically. "Remember what I said, Null. Find Twilight's secret and help her face it."

"I have no plans on leaving this place without learning what it is that’s so important, Pinkie Pie," I stated with purpose.

"Oh yeah, that reminds me," Pinkie said suddenly, her eyes going wide, "Surprise, Silly Billy!" Then she pushed something on the table, and my cushion shot me into the air as I heard a strange sound from underneath me.

Flying through dream-space, my eyes widened as I took in the stars of memory above me. They sparkled magically, and as I drew closer, I began to distinguish the different colors within each one. I turned my head around in time to glimpse the grass below disappear from view. I looked back to find myself hurtling towards a bright pink star. When I was only a short distance from it, I was able to see flashing images within it. Anticipating the impact, I closed my eyes a few meters away from the bright magical sphere.

I hit something gooey, my chitin becoming covered in a squishy substance. I squirmed my way upwards, pushing my hooves forward blindly in search of an exit. Finally, I exploded outwards, my eyes opening to fresh air and blue skies. I looked down to find that I had erupted from large pink cake. I surveyed the immediate area and spotted Pinkie Pie a short distance from me. She was standing over a very scared-looking Rainbow Dash. I moved closer in order to hear their conversation, bits of frosting dripping from me as I walked.

"Parties. Are. Serious! And you have my certified Pinkie Party Promise that you will have the best birthday party ever!" Pinkie stated with complete seriousness.

Rainbow Dash, who was still trapped by the pink party pony and had decided not to argue, simply said, "Okay." Pinkie Pie moved back to allow Rainbow Dash to roll off her back and back onto her hooves.

Afterwards Pinkie turned to all her friends who had gathered around and said, "Great! Now, who's ready to join this super duper party pony to plan this super duper pa-rty?" After she finished addressing the crowd, I couldn't be sure, but I swear I saw Pinkie Pie was looking at me.

From behind me, a stallion called out in answer to her question, "I am." I spun around, totally not spooked at all, to see a light molasses colored earth pony wearing a poncho and sporting a large hat tilted down over his face.

Every pony gasped as the pony in front of me blew on a small whistle of sorts. "Who are you, stranger?" Pinkie Pie said from behind me.

"Name's Cheese Sandwich. I plan parties," he said, stepping slowly forward, his hat still tipped downwards.

"What an amazing coincidence! I'm Pinkie Pie, and I'm planning a party!" Pinkie exclaimed.

Cheese Sandwich turned his head away from her for effect before muttering, "Oh, it's no coincidence, my little pony. My Cheesy Sense was a-tingling, telling me a party was in the works."

Pinkie Pie invaded the stallions personal space to say, "A Cheesy Sense? Ah! Double amazing! I have a Pinkie Sense!"

"Yes. I sensed you did. And I happen to be the premiere party planner in all of Equestria. If there's a party in need, there I'll be." Cheese Sandwich moved past Pinkie Pie, narrowing his eyes before continuing with deadly seriousness, "Be it wingding, hoedown, hootenanny, or shindig, I'm your pony."

Pinkie moved around to speak with everypony, "A pair of party pony planners in Ponyville?! What can be more perfect?!"

Rainbow Dash dived over to her, her eyes wide with excitement, "I'll tell you what—making this party epic! 'Cause this isn't just any birthday. It's also the anniversary of when I moved to Ponyville!"

Rarity, who had simply been watching from the side, pointed out the obvious, "Good heavens, Rainbow Dash, it's your birth-iversary!"

Rainbow Dash nodded, before flying over to Cheese and Pinkie, "Exactly! So what do you say, party planners?"

Pinkie Pie stood on her hind legs, before crossing her hooves and saying, "Oh, I think we can do it!"

"Oh, I don't think so," Cheese Sandwich said, waiting a moment for Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash to gasp, before finishing with, "I know so!"

As he finished speaking, he proceeded to fling off his poncho and hat, before bursting into a one of the craziest examples of spontaneous singing I've ever witnessed.

After watching a variety of explosions, disco parties, and a large assortment of cheese based party games, the town finally carried Cheese Sandwich off towards a different area of Ponyville. While the whole thing was rather crazy and loud, I did notice a plunge pertaining to Pinkie Pie's perpetual perkiness. She walked off on her own, her mane going limp across her ears. I followed her as she moped and sung a rather depressing tune to her own reflection. She moved on after looking down over a bridge, and somewhere between Pinkie Pie trying her hoof at construction and other things she's not properly trained for; we finally made it to what seemed to be where she lived. Pinkie slowly made her way into her home, her eyes examining the ground as I followed silently behind her.

The world shook around me, the ground seeming to be pulled out from underneath my hooves. I hit the floor hard, the carpet rubbing roughly against my neck and chest. It seemed that Twilight Sparkle might be waking soon, and that my time was limited. Pinkie Pie, who remained oblivious to my sudden loss of dignity, was looking upon pictures hung along the staircase wall. She took one into her hooves and looked at it with a soft smile. She continued to sing as she moved, my brain too scrambled to catch all the lyrics, however I could still feel an upsurge in her emotions.

As she moved to another picture, I could feel happiness and certainty rise from within her. With the short amount of time I assumed that I had left, I decided to take a risk. Standing up and then sucking in a breath, I drew as much emotion from Pinkie Pie as I could. I drank in her happiness, her devotion to her friends, and her love of making other ponies happy. My chest heaved, which of course was followed by a Chrysalis-tier migraine, causing me to lower my head in pain. Taking in Pinkie Pie's emotions was like eating cake, pie and a triple scoop ice cream float, all in one sitting. I felt like I was going to throw up, and when I looked up to assess the situation, my heart skipped a beat.

"I know you're there," a voice said quietly. My eyes widened as Pinkie Pie slowly walked down the stairs, her hair limply covering her lowered face. "I also know why you're here." she continued in a voice that was becoming increasingly more sinister. In a flash, Pinkie Pie vanished and then I was tackled to the ground with the force of a hundred changelings.

"Ahh!' I said, raising my legs to defend my face. Pinkie stood over me, before knocking my hooves down, and then pinning them to my side.

“You're here to hurt my friends! So, now you're going to be the one hurting." she said with an odd smile, her face close enough to mine to feel her breath against my cheek. Earlier, I thought I saw the fires of Tartarus in her eyes, but now as I was once again locked in a mortal stare-down, all I saw was a dark emptiness. "Something that only steals happiness from others deserves to suffer the same pain for themselves," she growled at me.

Unwilling to be subdued, I channeled magic into my horn to knock her back, the worst mistake I could have made. In a single hoof strike, Pinkie brought her leg down atop my horn, disintegrating it as if it were made of sand. I screamed as a sharp mental pain ripped through my already traumatized brain.

---

Darkness surrounded me… again. As I lay flat against the ‘ground,’ I tried to remember what had happened in Pinkie's memory. A phantom pain flashed across my consciousness, making my hoof go to my horn in response. It was intact however, but the pain still lingered.

What had gone wrong? What in the name of Chrysalis had caused such a personality shift? As I quietly contemplated my most recent failures as a changeling, I heard the pluck of a string. Oh, I'm here again. Wherever 'here' is, I still don't know. Getting up slowly, I crept blindly towards the sound. I still couldn't make anything out, but as I moved soundlessly, I heard it again. The pluck of a string reverberated across the ocean of darkness before me, the slightest bit of light pulsing past my hooves. I moved fast as notes began to carry through the abyss, a dim light growing in the distance.

The melody started to become more structured, and the closer I got, the more my hoof-steps synced with the rhythm. A gentle, but still driving rhythm was strum across a set of strings, beginning the telling of some story not yet heard. I could start to make out a voice, and thought I recognized it from earlier, but it the difference in tone made it hard to tell. The music itself seemed to brighten the area around me, and as I drew nearer, I picked up a few words that the mare was singing.

"A kind voice, a gentle face," she sang out, a hum of light reverberating out to me. I could almost see her at this point, a shadowy figure sitting next to an open flame in front of me. As I squinted in an attempt to make out her face, I heard the clink of something metal behind me. Hard shackles suddenly snapped closed upon my hooves, before they tightened down and began pulling me backwards. I opened my mouth to scream, but was then yanked hard, the sudden acceleration removing the air from my lungs. As the chains clanked and clattered, I could make out one last line of lyrics, "So much love you are!" the singer belted into the ocean of Twilight's mind.

---

I think I might be going insane, or at the very least, I'm delirious from drinking too many emotions. I look up to see evil Pinkie Pie tightening a set of hoof-cuffs around each of my limbs. I was hanging in the air against a wall, staring into what I presumed to be her bedroom. Pinkie Pie moved to exit the room, but stopped at a full length mirror to scowl at her own reflection, and then left. I pulled at my chains, trying to pull a hoof free from the metal shackles, but to no avail. They were extremely tight, and I was only exhausting myself by trying escape by physical means. Automatically, I went to call upon my magic, but received the equivalent of a sledgehammer to the forehead. My horn was still gone, and now I was crying with pain as I felt liquid drip down from the gaping wound where it had once sat.

From somewhere inside the house, I could hear Pinkie Pie saying, "No Mr. Plant, I'm not upset. I mean, why would I be?" Footsteps continued up the stairs, signalling my captors return. "My friends are too busy blowing me off for the super amazing Cheese Sandwich. I can't bother them with something like a little changeling problem."

I gulped as she reentered the room, and almost fainted again as I saw the chef’s knife in her hoof. I squirmed automatically in my restraints as she approached me, holding the knife up in front of her.

"You've been a very bad changeling, haven't you?" she said while she carefully traced the knife against my chitin, right above my heart. "Invading my friend's mind, torturing each of us and stealing our emotions. Yes, you've been a naughty little bug, and now, Pinkamena is going to punish you." My pupils shrunk to tiny dots at her words, and I nearly lost my bladder as she said, "I'm going to take back all the love you stole, and give it back to the ponies you hurt." With her last words, Pinkamena pushed harder with her knife, with more and more force until I could hear something begin to crack.

"Pinkamena Diane Pie!" A shrill voice cried out from behind her. Pinkamena withdrew her knife and turned around, to see that nopony was there. And then we both saw it, from over in the corner stood a puffy haired Pinkie Pie, who was scowling sternly at her. "What in Celestia's mane are you doing!?"

Pinkamena slowly walked towards the mirror, her knife still in-hoof, and then said, "I'm helping our friends Pinkie, haven't you seen what he's done?”

Pinkie Pie, the one in the mirror, shook her head before saying, "You were about to become a really bad pony, you know that don't you?'

Pinkamena stomped her hoof down, before yelling at her reflection, "Who cares about what I do, Pinkie Pie? Not my friends, not anypony." She held the chef’s knife up in front of her, and then said, "I'm the only pony that really cares, that just wants to see everypony smile." Pinkamena then spun around, pointing her blade at me and almost screamed, "But he's stealing their smiles, our smiles, from us. He wants to hurt our friends and take our happiness."

"You know that Twilight is okay with him being here, Pinkamena, and that she's aware of what might happen," Pinkie pie said reasonably.

"Well maybe Twilight is the crazy or maybe I am. But what I do know is that these things don't deserve a chance!" Pinkamena roared, before she started to approach me again.

"Your trust in our friends disappoints me Pinkamena, have you forgotten that everypony deserves a chance? Don't you remember Gilda?" Pinkie Pie called out from behind her alter ego.

Pinkamena stopped, her look of desperation and anger faulting slightly, "Yes..." she said aloud.

"Your friends have faith in each other, and you trust them, but you get so wrapped up in your own world that sometimes you forget that!" Pinkie Pie called out. "Now go ask Cheese Sandwich if he would like to help with your party planning, because you know fully well that your friends haven't forgotten you," she commanded herself. Pinkamena's hair puffed out like a marshmallow, returning to its normal shape. She placed the knife on the dresser and then dashed out the door, all the while singing about cupcakes.

The real pink pony stepped out of the mirror, a shimmering light emitting from behind her as she moved to me. Slowly and carefully, she removed each of the hoof cuffs with a key, and helped me down to the floor. She gave me a small smile, and a sad shake of her head.

"I'm sorry you had to see me at my worst, but I guess I should have warned you about how crazy I can be sometimes." Pinkie Pie said.

"Ugh,” I said, reaching to rub my hornless forehead with a hoof. "I suppose it was my fault, but I guess that's immaterial now."

"You've done enough here, Null, and now it's time for you to move on," she said seriously.

"Thank you, Pinkie Pie, for not just letting me suffer in this nightmare." I said with complete sincerity.

"I hope you're ready, Null the changeling, for Twilight Sparkle’s deepest secret awaits you. It's up to you from here on out. I won’t be able to help, but I expect you to keep your promise."

I stopped for a moment, looking into her deep blue eyes and feeling a small twist in my gut as I said, "I promise I'll try, Pinkie. I can't leave without finding it anyway, or I'm a dead little changeling."

"I think when you're done, you'll truly have a deep understanding of Twilight Sparkle," Pinkie told me, before moving towards me.

"Well, I think that was the entire point of this..." I stopped as Pinkie Pie pulled a actual pie from the ether, and then threw it at me.

"Pie Pie!" she giggled as it soared towards me, covering my eyes with gooey white frosting.

---

I opened my eyes, and the frosting was gone. I gazed around Twilight's chamber of inner thought as the last book's cover faded, and the magical line receded into the arcane circle. There was a flash of light before the inner symbols of the magical circle began to rotate. The runes spun around as a small opening began to form between them. The ground itself was disappearing into nothingness as I watched the magic work. Then, as the opening reached the edge of the circle, the spinning symbols stopped, and the room was momentarily still.

I stepped towards it, and was then thrown forward as the ground shook violently. I looked around as I heard the sound of crashing from far above me. I scrambled for the hole as the chunks of marble started to fall from above me. I fell down into the opening, and dropped to the ground several meters further down. A large piece of marble crashed into the ground above me, and after looking up, I saw that it completely blocked the opening.

Not getting out 'that' way. I finally took the time to observe my surroundings, and my mouth fell open at what I saw. Facing me, across a narrow strip of white light, was a platform with an oak door. The door itself was carved with Twilight Sparkle’s cutie mark, and was the only other thing in this room that I could see. I moved carefully across the narrow path, looking to my left and right to check for any surprises. Instead what I saw was more disconcerting than anything of which I could imagine. Completely surrounding the path of light I stood on was an endless pool of black liquid. And it wasn't just an empty void like before, but something that seemed to move like an actual body of water. If my hunch was right, and I hoped it wasn't, this was Twilight's unconscious mind. A place where thoughts that were almost never accessed were stored.

Stepping more carefully, I continued forward, doing my best to not think about what might happen should I fall into the murk. As I neared my objective, the narrow walkway began to widen, and then I stopped, feeling that something was off. I turned my head to look around again, but still didn't see anything beside the door, the endless ocean, and the way that I had came. I shrugged, moving forward to examine the door, and then the demon appeared.

From the darkness above me, I heard a roar, followed by a giant purple dragon falling directly in front me. His impact knocked me into the air, my bones rattling from the vibrations. His eyes narrowed at me, and I could see little puffs of fire emit from his mouth. He crouched down, his green spikes sticking up as he opened his mouth to send a wave of flame at me. The force of the heat reached me before the flames did, and my already airborne body was knocked sideways.

I splashed into the murk behind me, my eyes closing instinctively upon impact. Frantically, I moved my hooves to try and paddle back to the surface, but was horrified to find that I didn't even move an inch. In fact, I was quickly falling downwards to my doom. I opened my wings, and tried to fly out, but all they did was buzz, and I continued to fall unhindered.

Down… down… down… into the depths of Twilight's forgotten memories.

Author's Note:

For everypony that made it this far, congratulations on surviving. This chapter took some twists that I wasn't expecting, but I actually like after reading it through again. This has been a crazy ride thus far, and I hope you'll stick it through to the end.

As always, comments and constructive criticism are always nice. I'll try to have the next chapter up soon, so stay tuned!

With love and dedication, Dreams of Ponies