• Published 5th May 2017
  • 680 Views, 23 Comments

Whispers - Huk



After returning from a trip, Pinkie notices that her friends are behaving strangely around her...

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Chapter 3 - Darkling

Train to the Crystal Empire - current time

“Celestia can fix this - she can fix anything… right? Oh, how naive I was Mr. diary!” Pinkie said, pounding her head with her hooves. “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid Pinkie! Eh… I guess my plan didn’t exactly work out - but how could I know that even super-duper Princess Celestia and super-scary Princess Luna could fall to... whoever is behind all this? Cadance, pretty, pretty, pretty PLEASE help me… *sigh* Anyway, where was I?


Canterlot - two days earlier

The train from Ponyville finally stopped at the central station - by the time Pinkie arrived, the sun was slowly setting behind the horizon, painting the castle buildings with a light reddish glow. She quickly made her way to the palace, but to her surprise and irritation she learned, there will be no audience that day. “I’m sorry miss, but Princess Celestia is not available at the moment,” said one of the guards.

“Not available? But this is important!” Pinkie shouted in frustration, but the guard remained untouched.

“Miss, do you have any idea how many times a day I hear that? Everypony want’s a piece of the Princess - and she is only one mare,” he responded, maintaining his stoic posture, “I realize you are one of the element bearers Miss Pie, but right now the Princess is attending the conference with delegates from Saddle Arabia, and she gave specific instruction not to be disturbed - please return tomorrow.”

Gritting her teeth in frustration, Pinkie considered her options - unfortunately, she left her party cannon in Ponyville, so blasting her way through, was out of the question - as luck would have it, her pondering was interrupted by a familiar voice. “Pinkamena Diane Pie? What are you doing here?”

“Hello, Princess Luna... I came to talk to your sister, about very important stuff - but apparently, she is busy,” Pinkie said, and smiled gently, “perhaps I could talk with you instead?”

Luna nodded in agreement. “Of course! I just got back from my delegation in Manehattan and won’t be attending anything else today; please follow me to my private chambers.”

***

A minute later, they were sitting at the round dining table with a teapot on top, while Luna was preparing the drink for her guest Pinkie had explained her suspicions. “Indeed, we heard rumors that Chrysalis was rebuilding her armies - but it is doubtful she was able to replace the element bearers themselves,” Luna said while pouring herself and Pinkie a cup of tea. “You see, after the latest incidents, we placed certain changeling detectors in Ponyville, Canterlot, and few other strategic locations. We also adjusted the shield around the Crystal Empire so it would block any changelings from entering - there is nothing to worry about.”

Watching the steam rise off of the surface of her tea, Pinkie smiled gently and relaxed - finally some good news; but soon doubts started to fill her head. If everything was alright, why did her friends act so weird around her? And where had they wanted to bring her to? With all those unanswered questions, her smile started to fade quickly - seeing this; Luna added, “I think, you should talk to Celestia nevertheless. Perhaps she will be able to explain the behavior of your friends, where I cannot - you can use the guest quarters for the night.”

After a quick consideration Pinkie nodded in agreement. “Okie-dokie-lokie! Thank you, princess!" she said, drinking her tea down in one gulp. "Oh, and by the way - do you plan to attend this year’s Nightmare Night?”

“I don’t know-”

“Please say yes! We really, Really, REALLY would like you to scare us all again!" Pinkie shouted with a grin, hopping towards the confused princess. "Please Say Yes! PLEASE SAY YES!”

Luna started backing away from the crazy pony but soon hit the wall, and the pink blur was getting closer and closer... “ALL RIGHT!” she shouted in defeat. “We shall be there!”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you! With you, the fun will be tripled!”

Pinkie bounced around a - still a little shocked - Luna for a few more seconds, before saying her farewells, and going to the guest quarters to get some zzz's.

***

The next day, Pinkie was woken up by a knock on the door - as it turned out, she was invited to have the morning meal with Celestia herself. “Breakfast with the Princess?! Holy moly!” she quickly jumped out of her super comfy bed to prepare.

About 45 minutes later the doors to Celestia’s dining room opened with a quiet click. “Good morning Pinkie, please sit down,” Celestia greeted her with a smile, pointing at one of the chairs.

Pinkie approached the table expecting one of those ‘elaborate’ dishes that Rarity once took her for, that is: tasteless food and portions so small, that you could not feed a cat with it. Instead, in front of her was a stand full of cake and sweets - including her favorite cupcakes and tea - her mouth nearly drooled at the sight.

“I hope the breakfast is to your liking,” Celestia added, “consider it as a little compensation for my inability to see you yesterday.”

Using her magic, she put a huge piece of cake on the plate of her guest and her own - then without further ado, she started eating. This was the first time Pinkie had seen the princess eat in private and after witnessing Celestia’s muzzle smeared with pieces of the cake and frosting she couldn't help but giggle. “Pinkie, you have no idea how lucky you are,” Celestia said with a smile, while at the same time - devouring another piece of cake, cupcake, and a muffin, “you can eat whatever you want, wherever you want - I have to limit myself only to ‘special occasions’ like the one you provided for me today - for which I thank you sincerely. You wouldn’t want to know what I normally eat.”

Instead of answering, Pinkie took a huge, messy bite of her cake - now muzzles of both mares were covered in icing and smiling hard. “Luna told me your story, and I can assure you, there is nothing wrong with your friends,” Celestia continued, at the same time absorbing yet another chocolate muffin, “if any changeling tried to infiltrate Ponyville we would learn about it immediately.”

“But then… why were they acting so strange?” Pinkie asked, staring indifferently at a half-eaten cupcake.

“Question is - were they?” Celestia's response only added to Pinkie’s confusion. “You see, yesterday - after talking with Luna, I sent a letter to Twilight asking her about the behavior you described - and she confirmed everything, but also said they explained it to you… something about ‘secret party’ - I am not quite sure.”

Celestia paused and took a sip from her cup; at the same time, Pinkie was processing what she just heard while looking indifferently at the food. “Pinkie, I understand your concerns,” Celestia continued, “but have you considered the fact that you may be simply… overreacting?”

Poking at her food, Pinkie was lost in thoughts - could it be? Was it simply her imagination playing tricks on her? Usually, she would dismiss it out of hoof - but now, after some consideration, she realized Celestia might be right - it wouldn’t be the first time...

Her pondering was interrupted by the Princess, “I know for a fact that the last few weeks were quite stressful for you: first that party at Canterlot - which, by the way, was fantastic - then Luna’s birthday and now the Crystal Dessert Competition,” Celestia emptied her cup, “I know you are most energetic pony around, Pinkie - but stress of such life sooner or later, will get even to you - trust me, I know.”

Pinkie smiled weakly - lately, she was feeling a little more tired than usual - of course, nobody else noticed that she was bouncing a few centimeters closer to the ground than she normally does, or that her rate decreased from a solid sixty bounces per minute to more like forty-five or fifty, but she knew. “Perhaps… you are right; I’m a teensy-weensy more tired lately.”

“Maybe we should have you examined?” Celestia asked with a hint of concern. “I know, nobody like checkups - I mean how many times can you hear ‘You should eat fewer sweets, it’s unhealthy!’ or ‘Your blood pressure is too high - you must drink less tea and follow your diet’ or ... “ she paused, after realizing she was impersonating her doctors with two pieces of bread held by her magic, so they formed a ‘talking mouth’ - blushing slightly, she put the ‘talking food’ away. “Em… yes, like I was saying - nobody likes checkups, but when you are feeling tired they can be quite useful - if you’d like, I could have my personal doctors examine you, even today.”

Pinkie struck a thinking pose and considered Celestia’s offer - she wasn’t very fond of doctors poking her and drawing blood but, if there was something wrong with her - something that made her ‘loco in the coco’ to the point that she started suspecting her friends of being changelings, she needed to know. “Holy moly… I can’t say I’m super-duper looking forward to this… but I need to know - I don’t want to hurt the girls again…” she raised her hooves and made a salute gesture, “I’ll do it! For my friends!”

Celestia nodded her head with a smile, then they both finished the breakfast. The Princess still had some business to attend to but asked Pinkie to meet her at the Canterlot General Hospital’s royal wing at 2 PM.

***

The royal wing wasn’t as ‘royal’ as Pinkie expected - she imagined the building stuffed with gold, gems, and amber… but it turned out to be just another boring hospital - only a little tidier and less crowded than the clinic for ordinary ponies.

After the tests began, Pinkie quickly regretted her decision to come there - she was scanned and poked into every orifice of her body, the doctors even managed to create a few new ones in the process - after drawing her blood, she had a talk with a shrink. It was almost 4 PM when one of the physicians entered Pinkie’s private room. “Hello Mrs. Pie - we got your results - let’s see…” he glanced at his clipboard and paused, looking a little confused, but only for a moment. “Well, there are some indications of elevated stress hormones in your blood, the glucose level is a bit higher than normal, but not by far… also that dream about ‘cupcakes’, you described to the psychiatrist was rather… disturbing - all that suggest you are stressed out. I would strongly recommend a lot of rest and to take it easy for at least a week.”

“Oh, that’s it? All I need is teensy-weensy rest, and all this will go away? And I will feel super-duper again?”

“I… didn’t exactly catch all that Mrs. Pie, but if you are asking if you’ll feel better - then the answer is yes,” the doctor responded. “Princess Celestia would like to have a word with you - can I send her in?”

Pinkie nodded, and the doctor left the room - moments later Celestia came inside. “So how are you? Everything checked out fine?”

“Doctor said all I need is some rest but...” Pinkie shook her head - no matter how many ponies told her everything was OK, she had this gut feeling that it really wasn’t, “but… what if… if… I don’t know - what if something else is wrong with my friends? Perhaps not the changeling but…” she paused for a moment, querying her mind for ideas - and one struck her like lightning, “MIND CONTROL! Yes, that must be it! Somepony is trying to control my friends - that explains everything! Princess, we have to-”

“Pinkie STOP!” Celestia interrupted with raised voice, Pinkie never heard the Princess speaking so loudly before. “I am sorry, but I see that I have no choice - I have to stop this before you will do something you will regret.”

Celestia sat down next to a confused Pinkie and continued. “We both know you were there before - you suspected your friends, and it didn’t end well,” Pinkie’s mane deflated slightly, those were bad memories, “do you remember the letter you send to me afterward? What did you write? Please try to recall.”

She didn’t have to try - everyone knew Pinkie had an excellent memory. The letter in question was rather lengthy, but she had a pretty good idea which part was on Celestia’s mind. “I… I wrote that… from this day forward I will have more trust in my friends - and I will not jump to conclusions so quickly.”

“Exactly, I am asking you, to follow what you wrote in that letter. As a ruler, I get hundreds of reports of ‘suspicious behavior’ every day - do you know how many actually turn out to be true?” Pinkie shook her head. “Maybe one in a thousand or less - you have no idea how many ponies actually reported that you are a changeling, spy, witch or fallen demon in disguise,” she added with a chuckle.

Pinkie stared at the ground with an emotionless face, her mouth slightly agape - she still wasn't sure what to think. Suddenly the ‘Gummy after party’ that started it all - filled her mind, and with it: Mr. Turnip, Rocky, Sir Lintsalot, and Madame Le Flour - the ‘replacements’ she created for her friends.

She never confided this to anyone, but after 'chatting' with her new ‘companions’ she felt alone and lonely, but most of all furious - and her anger grew with every passing moment. If Dashie would visit just a few minutes later… Pinkie feared she would have hurt her. What's worse - even though everything turned out OK, she had nightmares for weeks after that - horrors about her hurting her friends in the most disturbing ways possible.

After a moment of silence, Pinkie violently shook her head. “You are right - you must be… I… I just can’t risk it,” she said with teary eyes, “if you are saying I should trust them - I will.”

A smile returned to Celestia's face. “Thank you, Pinkie - now, I think you should get back home unless of course, you have some other business in Canterlot I don’t know about? Like… exchanging some secret spy information, or using you ‘witch magic’ to turn someone into a newt?” Celestia chuckled.

Pinkie wiped tears from her eyes. “Nope... I think I did what I came to do… I… I’m sorry for the trouble your Highness.”

“Don’t be - it’s better to be too vigilant, than not vigilant enough... Oh and... just between you and me - if you ever figure out how to turn ponies into newts or something else, let me know - I could use it on my nephew,” Celestia winked and Pinkie nodded with a smile - seconds later they left her room and parted ways - Pinkie was off to train station.

***

Pinkie was filling out discharge papers at the registration desk when she noticed her diary was missing. “Oh gosh! I must have left it in my room, I’ll be back!” she said, and quickly ran upstairs. That book was very important to her - and the mere thought of losing it was making her heart beat faster. Fortunately, when she reached her room - the small notebook was still lying idly on the bed. She grabbed it with a sigh of relief and started to go back when she heard the sound of her name coming from one of the offices - someone was talking.

One of the voices was definitely Celestia's, “...I must be sure - we can’t afford any mistakes here,” she said, and a second later a green flash illuminated the room.

Out of curiosity, Pinkie took a look inside - the view made her blood run cold - Celestia was there all right, along with a male changeling!

“Satisfied?” he asked, furrowing his brow in irritation.

“Mildly - now please tell me what did you learned. I already know what the tests said - but I must be sure,” Celestia - if that was Celestia - said.

“Well… I can only confirm the tests results, if something were off, I would know - but to be on the safe side, we should wait for the blood work.”

Celestia stomped her hoof and an expression of frustration flooded her face. “So, in reality, we got nothing… the blood work will not be here until tomorrow, and I already sent her away.”

With her mouth wide open, Pinkie took a step back and dashed for the exit. Her mind boggled up, for all she knew - there was some conspiracy going on, and the princess has been compromised just like her friends.

She was about to burst through the front door when, Luna entered the hospital - with Prince Blueblood hanging from her shoulder - his fur dirty, and a bit bloody. Pinkie stopped dead in her tracks from the shock.

“Hello your highness,” the receptionist said with a smile, waving her hoof at the nearby nurses, “another fight I presume?”

Luna sighed and shook her head. “Stairs,” a few ponies put the mumbling prince on the gurney, “when he gets sober, please let us know.”

The receptionist nodded and returned to her duties, like if nothing happened - at the opposite end of the hall Pinkie finally regained her composure. “Princess Luna! I need to speak with you!” she shouted, approaching the blue alicorn.

For the next minute, Luna listened, with a stoic face. “Pinkie… I am sorry, but this is just crazy! Celestia sent me to Ponyville to examine your friends just in case - I found nothing out of the ordinary. And now you are implying she is a changeling?!”

“Princess… I know how this sounds, but-”

“Enough!" Luna slammed her hoof into the floor sending spiderweb cracks along the surface. "I don’t wanna hear anymore - I don’t know what’s gotten into you, but this has got to stop!”

The blue alicorn loomed over Pinkie, like a predator - her eyes burning with rage. Swallowing hard, Pinkie took a step back when it hit her. “They got to you! You are not Luna!”

“So now I am a changeling too? Child - you are confused. I am sorry, but for your own good I must ask you to-”

Suddenly the door burst open. “CODE BLUE! CODE BLUE! OUT OF THE WAY! OUT OF THE WAY!” shouted one of the paramedics, pushing a gurney with some unknown mare. Luna went on autopilot and teleported - ending up on the second floor. When she got back to the reception area, a few seconds later - Pinkie was gone.

***

Assuming the worst, Pinkie was running as fast as she could - she didn't know what was going on, or who was responsible... but one thing was certain - she was alone. Her only ally at the moment was the rush hour - with the streets of Canterlot crawling with ponies, it was easy to blend in.

After putting some distance between her and the hospital, she turned to one of the more obscure alleys and laid down behind a trashcan - breathing heavily. “Oh gosh… what should I do? I need to get some help… but from where? The princesses and my friends are out... perhaps my family?" she paused for a moment but then shook her head "Silly… what can they do? No… we need some super-duper army or something…”

Suddenly her pondering was interrupted by a sound of her name, coming from the main street. “...yes and three balloons as the cutie mark,” Pinkie peeked from behind the wall, to see a bunch of royal guards getting briefed - everyone holding a picture of her. “Princess Celestia and Princess Luna will be joining the search soon - they want her alive and unharmed - understand?”

Pinkie’s heart sank, now it was official - she was a fugitive, and soon, every royal guard in Canterlot would be looking for her. “Nopey-dopey… I don’t believe this is happening! Think - you must do something and save your friends; otherwise, this will end up just like during the wedding…” suddenly, the idea struck her head like a bolt of lightning, “Of course! Cadance! She should be able to help! I need to get to the Crystal Empire ASAP!”

Pinkie peeked her head again, only to notice a dozen guards coming her way - train station was only about a kilometer from her location, but using the main street was out of the question - her only option was to follow the alley she was in. The passage was dark and littered with trash - the smell reminded her of the garbage behind the Sugarcube Corner - on top of that, it twisted every few hundred meters. This place was probably extended over time as Canterlot grew, and while the front of the buildings was aligned to the main street, the alleys were not, forming a sort of labyrinth.

It took a while to navigate this maze, but finally, she was ready to emerge nearby the station, when suddenly… “There she is! You, over there! Stop in the name of Celestia!” a guard shouted in the distance, and all hell broke loose.

With her heart in her mouth, she started to run. She tried a path on the left only to turn back when she heard the guards approaching from that direction, the route on the right was next but following it, she soon found herself at a dead end - when she backtracked the guards were just meters away. As it turned out, the third time's the charm - the final path was clear, and since Pinkie was not wearing the Royal Armor, she managed to outrun the pursuit.

A minute later she came out near the construction zone where the ‘Twilight Tower’ was being built - the train station was just beyond it, across the road. She was almost at the center of the site when a blue blur landed in front of her. “That’s far enough Pinkie!” Rainbow shouted, blocking her path.

Rest of mane six, as well as the princesses teleported in with a 'poof' - seconds later. “Who the heck are you!” Pinkie screamed, backing away from the group.

Celestia answered with a stoic face, “You must come with us - don’t make it any more difficult.”

“Never! Leave me alone!”

"You leave me no choice," Celestia's horn started to glow but before she could discharge...

BAM!

Smoke and confetti filled the air around the group stunning everyone momentarily - by the time they recovered, Pinkie was a good distance away.

“I’ll get her!” Rainbow Dash jumped into the air; she was about to grab the target, but at the last moment - Pinkie threw another 'confetti-bomb', confusing the pegasus long enough to jump away. “Darn it Pinkie, surrender already-”

“WATCH OUT!” the crowd shouted - Dash turned her head, only to notice that a support pillar was in her way, she tried to evade but it was too late, she crashed, and a second later, the tower started to come down on her and rest of the group. Pinkie - who at the time was outside the crash zone - could only watch in horror as the pile of rubble buried her friends under tons of rock and concrete.

Her first reaction was to help - but the demolition caused a thick cloud of smoke and dust to rise into the air, obscuring the view and making it hard to breathe - she could also hear some of the guards already calling for assistance. Even if she did not want to admit it - that was the perfect diversion, if she had any chance to make it to the Crystal Empire, it was now or never.

“Forgive me…” she said with teary eyes and ran towards the train station.

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