• Published 13th Nov 2017
  • 892 Views, 22 Comments

I Can Read Names in Clouds - Yuu



In the aftermath of the confusion with replacing the newest princess, a human arrives to learn about pony society.

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Shadowtime

“Why did you sabotage the wedding?” Medley asked.

“Do you mean our latest expedition?” the queen asked. Medley nodded, and Golden Beryl continued. “I wanted to know more about your newest princess, especially her emotional profile. She was more accessible than the queens. By the way, I am detecting almost no emotions from you.”

The queen looked at me as she spoke. Maybe she could reliably detect emotions only in natives.

“Could you please turn around?” she asked me.

I wasn’t sure why she needed that, but she hadn’t done anything bad yet. I turned slowly…

She slapped me on my butt!

“Hey, what are you doing?” I whirled around to see a mischievous smile on her face.

“I can feel something now, but not much,” Golden Beryl said. “You aren't a pony, so your emotions are hard to recognize, for me.”

Medley smiled, looking between me and the queen. Rainbow quickly turned away from me.

“So what can you tell me about yourself?” the queen asked.

I inhaled and exhaled several times to compose myself. Really, what could I say? Should I tell her I was from another world? Queen Azure Sky didn't ask me to keep it secret. And the doppelgängers lived among ponies, so they could probably find out anyway, if they hadn’t already.

So I told her that I came from Earth, about my singing career and my work as an operative in the Coalition. I also told her a bit about the structure of the Coalition and its goals. Finally I mentioned my ability to change shape.

“There are legends about us, in which we can transform into animals,” the queen said, “but we can only mimic intelligent beings of similar shapes and sizes. You have only a few forms, but they are very different both in terms of shape and mass.”

“We thought Snowy Clothes would be a good ambassador,” Medley added, “because she isn't so different from you. She can also easily understand foreign languages.”

“Yes, I forgot about that,” the queen said, nodding to her, then turned to me. “Please tell me, how is that possible?”

“Well, it started when a powerful mage or spirit made a deal with me,” I said. “For some work I was given a translation device, which was integrated into my spirit side. It works by scanning my brain, as well as the brain of the people I'm speaking to. I assume it’s a passive scan, because I don’t emit any rays or beams of particles when I use it.

“But how can you be sure it works?” Medley asked.

“Scientists from the Coalition examined me. They were very interested in this gift of mine. The translator supposedly correlates my brain activity with objects around me as I notice them, which allows it to translate patterns of different brains. So when I say something, it stimulates the corresponding pattern of the person I’m talking to, or vice versa.”

“That sounds like an advanced technology, even for the Coalition,” the queen said.

“In this form, yes. They might be able to create something similar, but it would be a big and bulky device.”

I didn’t have anything more to say, so I waited for someone else to speak.

“You know, we appreciate versatility and adjustment to changes even more than ponies,” Golden Beryl said. “But it looks like we should use these principles more and adapt to live among the ponies undisguised.”

Medley smiled. “I think that wouldn't be so bad.”

“Even queens before me thought that would happen someday,” Golden Beryl said.

“What we should do now?” Rainbow asked after a pause. “These doppelgängers doesn't look so bad to me.”

“Well, we need to leave soon,” I said, turning to the queen. “If we ever need to find you again, Medley can guide our way.”

“How she can do that?”

“She has special abilities that common ponies don't have,” I said. “A different kind of magic. She can locate known individuals and come to them.”

“That would be beneficial for all ponies,” the queen said. “Please come, if you have something to talk about.”

“Thank you,” I said. “But could I ask you something before we go?”

“Ask away.”

“What are the differences between your magic and ponies’ magic?”

“I believe you already know about the three pony races,” the queen said.

I nodded.

“I can compare our magic with that of the unicorns and land-ponies. Like unicorns, we produce most of our magical effects from the brain, more specifically, from a region behind the eyes.”

“Wouldn't that make it hard to see?” Medley asked.

“We actually don't see the glow if we don't focus on it,” the queen said. “And we are similar to land ponies, because we have more cells that produce magic in our bodies. We can produce wings similar to pegasi ones, but we are very bad fliers. So we usually only pose as unicorns or land ponies.”

“I see. Can you do anything else with your skin, other than change your appearance?” I asked.

“A number of things,” the queen said. “We can use it to make tools.”

She raised a foreleg, and in a green flash the hoof transformed into a short blade.

“That's awesome,” Rainbow said.

“Does it glow because of your magic?” I asked.

“Yes. Normally we can only transform the skin tissue slowly, but we developed a magical effect that helps break the connection between cells, before restoring them. The blade is hard enough for practical use, because the cells have mineral particles inside.”

In another flash of green the blade disappeared, reforming into a small wheel with several thick spokes. She turned it with another foreleg.

Medley and Rainbow stared at Golden Beryl. Well, considering doppelgängers сould mimic the appearance of different ponies, a wheel instead of a hoof may be not so great achievement, but still. Could they make a working machine gun mechanism? No, that train of thought would only give me nightmares. I had to focus on something else...

“We can also manipulate our skin for medical purposes,” the queen said, after making her hoof normal again. “For example, I can open a window to provide access to my internal organs. Do you want to see my bones and muscles, or maybe my intestines—”

“No, no, we trust you can do that,” Rainbow interrupted. “But that's also very awesome.”

“If you say so.” Was she smiling a little?

“But if a doppelgänger lost consciousness,” I asked, “how would you reach her insides?”

“A doppelgänger can force another’s skin tissue to comply and change shape with a physical contact,” the queen said. “Another application in medicine is using it to patch internal organs. We can produce a suture and lace any ruptures. The sutures even dissolve over time, and new tissue grows in its place.”

“I see, you can treat each other quite well,” Medley said.

“Yes, we can,” the queen said. “I have estimated that this ability could heal me even after a fall at terminal velocity.”

“Well I hope that never happens to you anyway!” Medley said.

“I hope so too, but it's better to know one’s own abilities,” the queen said.

“I see, thank you. Are you the only ruler of doppelgängers?” I asked.

“No, there are other queens who lead their own groups,” Golden Beryl said. “We contact each other from time to time.”

“Why do they lead separate groups?” Rainbow asked.

“We do it this way because queens sometimes have more than one daughter, and it can be difficult to negotiate the joint leadership of the same group. All queens are related to each other to some degree. If a queen doesn't have any descendants, her doppelgängers just go to her closest relative after her death or just to the closest group.”

“So you have a royal bloodline?”

“Kind of,” Golden Beryl said. “The first queens were just the smartest and strongest doppelgängers. The current bloodline started when the late queen's oldest daughter was chosen as the new queen. And the trend continued unbroken for several generations. If the bloodline ends, all doppelgängers will choose the most qualified mare to lead them. Though that is very unlikely, as we currently have more than twelve queens and their daughters.”

“Do you not have any kings?” Medley asked.

“No, because magical ability only descends the female line,” Golden Beryl said. “So my male offspring would likely have only average abilities.”

“Interesting,” I said. “Is it difficult to live among ponies, as a doppelgänger?”

“Not at all,” the queen said. “We can retain our form without any conscious effort. Some of my children have lived with ponies for years.”

“You have children?” Rainbow asked.

“Well, queens traditionally call other doppelgängers their children, because we have a very close connection with each other. But we have a family structure similar to what ponies have. And I have three children of my own.”

“Oh,” Rainbow said.

“So, back to my children among ponies,” the queen said, after gathering her thoughts, “only some of them have problems fitting in. It usually happens if anypony finds out they aren’t real ponies. They usually change cities after that, and take on another identity. Some stay, but they may become subject to blackmail.”

Medley looked sad. “Really? Aren't ponies good at heart?”

“Most are, but some are still biased,” the queen said.

Medley sighed. “Poor doppelgängers.”

The queen nodded. “Even though we can exchange thoughts and emotions, I can't read minds, so even if I suspect one of my children is being manipulated or hurt, it is still hard to know.”

“I hope, once you have official relations with ponies, we can help you solve this problem,” I said.

“Yes, I hope so too,” the queen said. After a brief pause she added, “If you don't have any more questions, then I won't keep you.”

“Oh, well, how will we get home from here?” Medley wondered. “I can use Invisible Magic, but I’m not sure I can take you both. I still don't have the same skill as Gracia.”

“I can fly with Rainbow,” I said. “It shouldn’t take us long.”

“Good, off we go,” Medley said, then she turned to the queen. “Wait, do you know how to find us?”

“Of course. You are the bearers of the elements, are you not?,” Golden Beryl said, smiling.

“Um, okay bye!” Medley waved her foreleg.

“In a world far away, we may meet again,” the queen said.

When we walked out of earshot, I turned to Medley.

“In a world far away?” I asked. “What did she mean?”

“I think it's a doppelgänger goodbye,” Medley said, making a circular motion with her tail.

I had noticed other ponies making the same movement before; it might have been the pony equivalent of a shrug.

After we left the camp, Medley decided she was going to find a good place to go back to the town and turned left. I just kept walking straight, with Rainbow following me.

“So,” Rainbow said, glancing up at the sky. “Yeah, we can both fly pretty fast, but it'll still take a couple of hours to get back.”

“We’ll fly in the spirit world,” I said. “Usually I can't bring others there, but your spirit world is very close, so...”

“And how fast we can fly there?”

“As fast as you can imagine.”

Rainbow laughed. “Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go.”

What a hasty horse.... Well, Medley and the doppelgängers were out of sight. Now I could take her into air to make the crossing simpler. Or I could just ask her to follow me on the ground. No, that wouldn't be much fun...

“You need to close your eyes and relax,” I said. “Then I will lift you a little and step into the spirit world. I'll tell you when you can open your eyes.”

“Fine,” Rainbow said, and she did as I instructed.

I jumped and opened my wings, coming to a hover over Rainbow. I hooked my forelegs under her armpits, careful that my wings didn’t touch her. I lifted her only a meter in the air, to avoid any injuries in case of falling.

I checked my position once more and closed my eyes, imagining we were going through the barrier into the spirit world. After a few seconds I suddenly dropped down a little, as if I had moved into a zone of turbulence, so I opened my eyes.

The first thing I noticed was the moon. It hung over the horizon, occupying a third of the sky. Around it were millions of stars, bright and densely packed, almost as if a silver river had spilled right on top of us. There were no trees around us, but there were many bushes, bearing leaves of vibrant green.

That was a good sign, so I lowered Rainbow to the ground and released her.

Rainbow also looked slightly different, she became a head taller than before and also got translucent folded wings on her sides.

“You can open your eyes now,” I said.

She did, and looked around. “Awesome.”

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