• Published 20th Jul 2012
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The Conquering of Love - Littlecolt

Twilight finds she and her friends are trapped in their own minds and must escape.

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Horizons Ch 3 - Shatter

Book Three: Horizons

Chapter Three - Shatter

Fluttershy sat across from Rainbow Dash, waiting for an opportunity to interject and invite her to come down to Ponyville. Rainbow Dash had continued telling stories of her awesome escapades with the Wonderbolts since joining. Her eye twitched uncontrollably. Normally Fluttershy would be enjoying such stories, if only they were real, and if only Dash wasn’t being so overly arrogant about her accomplishments.

“And that’s why the Saint Hoofis Arch is now rainbow colored!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed. “It’s really something to see, you should go some time! Hey, we should go together! I could reenact my moment of unbridled heroism! I bet the orphans in that orphanage are still talking about it!”

Yeah, and I’m sure they’re still talking about how the orphanage burned down and you didn’t lift a hoof to help, too… Fluttershy thought to herself, gritting her teeth.

“I wonder if they ever did get that orphanage rebuilt, though… oh well, I’m sure it’s okay!” Rainbow Dash said with a laugh. She poured a large portion of the contents of her bottled beverage into her mouth and leaned back again onto the soft pillow behind her.

“So, Rainbow Dash, you know, as far as journeys go, this wouldn’t be as exciting, but Twilight was saying she wanted to see you down in Ponyville,” Fluttershy said, regaining her composure after hearing such a dumbfoundingly impossible story. “She said she had someone she wanted to introduce you to, as well.”

Rainbow Dash grinned. “Oh yeah? My adoring fans... a mare’s work is never done, I suppose,” she said, taking another sip from the bottle. “I’ll be down there tomorrow, no rush. Twilight can introduce her friend to me, then.”

Fluttershy frowned. “She did say she wished it could be tonight, though. I don’t know how long her friend is going to be around, and all, so...” she said, trailing off.She caught herself becoming quiet and thought back to everything she’d sworn back in her dream world, and raised her head back up. “We should go see her tonight, Dashie. She’s your friend, so you should at least make some time for her.”

Rainbow Dash sighed and set the bottle down beside her. “Oh come on, Fluttershy. Don’t be like that.” She stood up and shook her head. “Sorry, but it’ll have to wait, you’re lucky I stayed up to talk to you. I definitely don’t have time to go see Twilight and her little friend. And since when do you call me Dashie, anyway?”

Fluttershy gritted her teeth, Rainbow’s attitude getting more and more on her nerves every second. She stood up and pushed her face up to Rainbow Dash’s, speaking through her teeth. “Why did you even move Cloudsdale here if you won’t even go to Ponyville to see your friends?”

Rainbow Dash pulled away, her eyes taking on a slightly worried look. “Fluttershy, I just... you know...”

“No, I don’t know! I don’t know what it’s like to be the center of the universe! You know what, though? Neither do you!” Fluttershy shouted.

“Fluttershy, what’s gotten into you?” Rainbow Dash asked, backing away more.

“Doesn’t it seem a little too good to be true?” Fluttershy asked, her expression unwavering.

“What... do you mean?” Rainbow Dash asked, staring back nervously.

I’m sorry, Twilight, Princess, but I’m going to do it! Somepony needs to knock her down a peg! Fluttershy thought to herself as she stomped a front hoof down and swallowed her remaining nervousness along with any sense of reason. She stared right into Rainbow Dash’s eyes. The sun’s final red glint flickered through the windows as it set, and the moon rose into the sky, its cold light shining brightly into the room.

“So, Applejack,” Twilight started, her mind searching around for ways to ask about Apple Bloom’s cutie mark without making it too obvious. “Things must be different now that Apple Bloom has discovered her special talent.”

Applejack continued to look at the fillies with sadness in her eyes. She nodded her head and turned back to Twilight. “Yeah, but at the same time, she don’t really wanna show it off in front of Scootaloo. It’s been rough on her, and she’s been pourin’ herself into work at the farm to keep her mind offa it. She might seem happy to see Scoot, but I can tell… she’s lookin’ fer somethin’ else to bring the three of them back together.”

Twilight nodded. “They’re such good friends, I don’t see why their friendship can’t just keep them together,” she said quietly.

“Ain’t no point in pushin’ it, Twi. Just like cutie marks, those three are sure ta figure it out with time,” Applejack responded. “Meantime, we gotta head back to the farm and prep the next batch of apples on the trees.”

“Prep the apples? How so? Don’t you just wait for them to grow?” Twilight asked, placing a hoof to her chin.

Applejack grinned. “Come ta think of it, you never have seen Apple Bloom’s talent at work, have ya? I’m sure ya know sort of how it works, but seein’ is believin’. You should come watch her at work sometime,” Applejack said, turning towards the door to head back out. She leaned back towards Twilight and whispered, “And maybe, if yer that worried for ‘em, you could talk to Apple Bloom about her and the other two. Maybe hearin’ some support from others will kick her flank inta gear.”

Twilight smiled. “That’s a great idea! Do you want to come back to the farm right now, Scoota… loo?” Twilight said, looking around for the little pegasus. Apple Bloom was sitting in the back of the shop alone.

Apple Bloom smiled up at Twilight, a forced expression if Twilight had ever seen one. “Oh, she had to go. She said she had really important stuff to do before the Wonderbolts show tomorrow,” she said with a sigh. “Besides, we gotta get back to the farm, right sis?”

Applejack grinned a toothy grin and patted the filly on the head as she came close. “Right you are, sis! Got time for that thing I mentioned to ya, Twi?” Applejack asked.

Twilight simply nodded her head in response and headed out the door, following the two Apple siblings down the road.

If this isn’t Rainbow Dash’s dream, could it be Applejack’s? Or even Apple Bloom’s? I need to see this special talent myself, Twilight thought, hanging back behind the other two ponies. Could her talent be some sort of lucidity? I wish I could pull out the Colorscope lens and get a look at them, but I can’t risk it. The sight of it sends dream inhabitants into instant changeling transformation.

The three of them pushed onward towards the edge of town and Sweet Apple Acres. The orchards of the farm began far earlier than Twilight remembered. She looked to the right, and noticed a fence that was basically pressed up to the back of a house in Ponyville. Apple trees stood tall on the other side.

“Wow, it certainly looks like the farm has expanded,” Twilight noted as they passed onto a path that led down a hill and towards the main farmhouse.

“Of course!” Apple Bloom responded matter-of-factly. “We had ta move the farm in closer to Ponyville to get more trees up. What with mah special talent, we can use all of the trees all year round.”

Twilight turned her head back to Ponyville and then forward again towards the farmhouse. Is the farmhouse closer now, too? she thought. It’s like everything’s been pulled in towards Ponyville… She turned her gaze skyward, looking at Cloudsdale hanging in the northern sky, partically above Ponyville.

The trees dwarfed everything else in her field of vision, though. They were a lot taller and wider than they had been, and the farmhouse and accompanying barns had grown in size along with their move towards Ponyville. Everything looked recently repaired and renovated. The paint practically shined in the sun as it approached the point of setting over the horizon.

Applejack put a hoof over her eyes and squinted towards the setting sun. “Looks like we ain’t got much time, here, but why don’tcha show Twilight what you can do while there’s still daylight, little sis?” Applejack said, gesturing towards the trees in front of them.

Apple Bloom nodded. “Might as well. Daylight’s a burnin’, so I’ll hop to it!” she shouted, and then charged into the orchard. Twilight and Applejack leaned up against a fence, watching the filly as she ran straight at a large apple tree.

Applejack grinned. “Watch this, now!” she said, pointing her hoof towards the tree that Apple Bloom was on a collision course towards. Twilight kept her eyes open, not wanting to miss anything. Her horn began to glow slightly as she concentrated on any ambient magic.

If this is lucidity, I should be able to sense it. That’ll be one step closer to being certain without using the Colorscope.

Apple Bloom leapt through the air, spinning around at the peak of her jump. She landed backwards and slid powerfully towards the tree. At the last second, she raised her hind hooves into the air and slammed into the tree, bucking it harder than Twilight thought someone that size could.

The tree’s leafy canopy immediately burst into full blossom, flowers sprouting and spreading as if they were exploding out from the branches. The sight was as amazingly beautiful as it was unnatural seeming. Twilight’s mind was struck with the same sort of uncanny feeling that she got any other time she’d seen lucidity being used in the last couple of days. She didn’t feel any magic, but she knew it had to be true.

So that’s it, is it? Twilight thought, grinning towards Apple Bloom, who was waving at the two of them. This is your dream, isn’t it Apple Bloom?

The sun set in the west as Apple Bloom trotted back towards the two ponies. “Yep, we sure are proud of her. Out of all the gifts, she was given one so fitting of her name, and so great for the farm,” Applejack said, pushing herself away from the fence and landing back down on four hooves. “So, Twi, you wanna join us for dinner? I know you must be hungry after yer trip back from Canterlot.”

Twilight nodded her head. If her reason for coming along has been to find out if one of them was the dreamer, then it had gone amazingly well. I still have to be certain by checking with the lens somehow, but after that, the course is clear, Twilight thought. I have to wake up Apple Bloom!

“We can talk to Apple Bloom about the Cutie Mark Crusaders, too. I really appreciate your help with this,” Applejack whispered into Twilight’s ear. “Surely the three of us will come up with somethin’. I know she seems happy, but Apple Bloom just feels so lost right now. All three of them do, and nopony seems ta want ta help much…”

Twilight smiled. “Don’t worry, AJ. I’m sure things will get better soon,” she replied, knowing that it was possible that Applejack here in this dream wouldn’t be able to see her sister anymore soon.

That’s okay, though… right? Twilight thought. She’s a lot like the real Applejack. I’m sure she’d miss Apple Bloom. I hadn’t even considered how that might affect a dream. It feels a little creepy… like kidnapping, almost.

The moon rose into the sky as the three ponies marched towards the farmhouse. However, before they could reach it, a bright green flash came from the sky. Twilight jerked her head northward towards Cloudsdale in time to see several streaks of green lightning flying through the night sky out from the dense cloud city.

Oh no! Twilight thought Fluttershy!

“What’s goin’ on!?” Applejack shouted, staring towards the sky and pressing her hat firmly against her head.

“Whatever it is, it’s bad!” Twilight responded. “Sorry, AJ, but I have to go! I can’t explain, but I have to get back to Sugarcube Corner!”

Twilight took of galloping back into town. Applejack looked over her shoulder at Apple Bloom and shouted. “Apple Bloom! You go make sure Granny Smith’s okay, then get Big Mac out here! I’m headin ta town with Twilight! She seems to know something about this, and I bet she could use my help!”

Apple Bloom dashed towards the house and Applejack snapped forward with a leap, trailing Twilight into Ponyville.

Apple Bloom arrived at the farmhouse and took one last look towards the sky as another bolt of green lightning shot out from Cloudsdale. Her eyes lit up green from the light flash. What’s happening up there? she wondered.

Celestia blinked her eyes with some confusion as she stood as still as possible, posing as Rarity draped brightly colored cloth over her. How did I end up like this? I think I missed it...

“Rarity! She absolutely needs some flashier trim, don’t you think?” Sweetie Belle announced, stepping back from the confused model. She sat down and held both hooves up, lifting her forelegs to either side of her field of vision and moving them in and out.

“Oh, yes, Sweetie. Her pure white coat will absolutely pop out from behind a deep but glittery frame!” Rarity exclaimed with much joy. She ran to the back of the shop, shouting “Be back in just a moment! Not just anything will do!”

Celestia turned and looked in the mirror that was on the wall across from her a ways. Her idea for a simple hat design had been shot down, and her head was now adorned in what could only be described as a cactus that had taken on a secret life as a hat by night. It’s bright green color was only topped by the spiky protrusions coming out at it in random directions and in every pastel color imaginable. The dress, if you could call it that, which was seeming to magically form around her as the two sisters worked, was equally an eyesore.

Unless Rarity secretly wishes to cause pain to those who look at her work, this can not possibly be her dream, she thought, then turning her gaze towards Sweetie Belle. The little filly stared back up at her with a giant grin on her face and various needles and thread floating above her, suspended by magic.

“This is gonna be great, trust us! We’re professionals!” she said happily.

Celestia leaned down towards the little one and spoke softly. “To be honest, I had not originally come here to shop. I’m here on an investigation, and have a few questions for your sister.”

Sweetie Belle grinned even more widely. “Like a crime investigation! I know a thing or two about that, you know! Back before I got my cutie mark, my friends and I tried out being Cutie Mark Crusaders Super Sleuths! We didn’t get our cutie marks, though, even though we did solve the mystery of Snips’ missing lunch!”

Celestia chuckled. “Oh, really, now? And where was the missing lunch?” she asked.

“Yeah, turns out he ate it and just forgot about it,” Sweetie Belle replied, waving a hoof in the air in front of her. “The evidence was overwhelming! He had cabbage stuck between his teeth!”

“Sounds like you went deep for clues,” Celestia said, widening her eyes. “Maybe a little deeper than I would have, even!”

Sweetie Belle let out a belly laugh, falling forward a bit. “Yeah, it was so gross!” she said. “But it was fun, even though we didn’t get our cutie marks that day.”

Celestia placed a hoof against her chin. “Well, you have yours now, so at least that’s a good thing,” she said. “Your Cutie Mark Crusading ended up proving worthwhile in the end.”

Sweetie Belle sighed and looked down at the floor. “If only Scootaloo could have gotten her mark, too,” she said quietly. “Sorry. You’re a total stranger, and here I am talking to you about this.”

“No no, that’s okay. It’s good to talk, sometimes to anypony about anything,” she said with understanding of such predicaments. She’d had plenty of moments in her life where she had nopony to talk to… especially in the years after her sister had been banished.

“So hey, tell me about this case you’re looking into,” Sweetie Belle said, straying away from the earlier subject. “Maybe I know something!”

As Sweetie Belle asked this, Rarity returned in a rush, dragging several bright stands of cloth with her. Celestia knew this was the perfect opportunity to broach the subject and save herself from further modeling. She turned her eye up to Rarity briefly, then back down to Sweetie Belle.

“I’m investigating a missing pony case, a pony by the name of Pinkie Pie.”

The happiness seemed to drain immediately from the room, as well as Rarity’s face. She sat down and turned her head downward. Sweetie Belle followed suit rather quickly. “I… see,” Rarity said slowly. “I don’t really know much about-”

“I’ve been told you were the last pony to see Pinkie Pie before she vanished,” Celestia said, cutting Rarity off and pushing the partially made dress down and off. “This is a matter of grave importance, so I need you to tell me everything you know. Every detail, no matter how small, could help blow this case open, so please, tell me what happened on the day that Pinkie Pie came to see you.”

Rarity sat silently for a moment as Celestia stepped towards her, each hoofstep seeming to drive Rarity’s gaze lower and lower. Through the window behind Celestia, the sun was dipping lower and lower onto the horizon, casting her shadow long and dark across the floor, covering Rarity in shadow.

“I can’t tell you, I’m sorry, but I’m bound to silence on the matter,” she said, almost sounding ashamed.

“Please, Rarity. Pinkie’s life may be in danger!” Celestia said loudly, pushing a hoof towards the seated pony. “What could be more important than your friend’s life?”

“I made a Pinkie Promise!” Rarity shouted as she lifted her head towards Celestia. The light of the full moon shone brightly on her face through a window on the other side of the boutique, illuminating the tears that were streaming down her cheeks.

She’d been warned about this, but the princess had not honestly suspected that could have been the reason for her not telling anypony about Pinkie’s visit. Of all the silly reasons, this was the most ridiculous.

It’s shocking to actually hear it, and to see that it actually has a hold on her, Celestia thought. It’s the sort of thing a child would dream up…

As that thought went through her mind, her eyes suddenly shot over towards Sweetie Belle. It’s… something like a child would dream up... she thought. Oh my...

The princess didn’t have long to dwell on that thought, though. A moment later, a bright flash of green light shot down from Cloudsdale as bright as the sun. The princess bolted towards a window on the north side of the shop and stared up at Cloudsdale. Several more flashes of green shot out like lightning bolts. Celestia knew that this could only mean one thing.

“Fluttershy,” she said quietly. “What happened?”

“What’s going on out there?” Sweetie Belle asked, her voice laced with tension.

“Stay here with your sister,” Celestia said. “I’m heading out to investigate!”

Rarity stood back up and ran over to the window as well. “Are you sure you’ll be okay? I can help!”

Celestia picked up a slightly simpler pink wide-brimmed hat from the hatrack near her. She placed it on her head and tipped it as she grinned towards Rarity. “No, ma’am, but thank you. Don’t worry. I’m a professional!”

With that, she burst out of the boutique through the front door and ran down the path towards Sugarcube Corner.

Rarity stared out the door blankly. She suddenly had a realization and waved her right hoof in the air, yelling out the door. “Hey, get back here! You have to pay for that hat!” She flew through the door as well, chasing Celestia into town.

Sweetie Belle chuckled. “You just wanted to go along, didn’t you sis?”

The small filly looked up into the sky. Another bolt of green lightning shot across its surface. Her eyes lit up with the green light shining down from above.

Fluttershy loomed over Rainbow Dash, the moonlight coming in from the window behind her masking her face in shadow.

“What if this is all just an illusion, Rainbow Dash? What if none of this is real, and we’re all just dreaming?” Fluttershy proposed. Rainbow Dash stared back, her eyes shaking as they darted around Fluttershy’s expression, searching for any sign of there being some sort of a punchline to this.

“That’s so ridiculous! Of course this is real!” Rainbow Dash said, now swallowing nervously herself. “Sheesh, what’s gotten into you?”

Fluttershy pressed a hoof against Rainbow Dash’s chest, knocking the loose knot of the robe untied. Rainbow Dash fell back onto her haunches, staring up at Fluttershy.

“This is a dream, Rainbow Dash. None of this is real. You, and me, and Twilight, and even the princess... everypony! Everypony is trapped in changeling cocoons, being forced to dream these crazy dreams! On the day of the royal wedding, the changelings beat us, Rainbow Dash! They beat us and now they’re feeding on us!”

Rainbow Dash placed a hoof to her head and clenched her eyes shut, cringing towards the ground. “What... are you... talking about, Fluttershy? That’s crazy!” Her head pounded as visions of the changelings flashed through her mind. A pair of bright green eyes materialized in her field of vision. A voice rang out in her ears, loud and distorted, unable to be understood and hissing.

“No, Rainbow Dash,” Fluttershy responded calmly. “What’s crazy is all this. Where did all these medals and pictures even come from if they made you a Wonderbolt so quickly, and the captain no less? Let alone this castle being built in a month, Cloudsdale moving to Ponyville, and most of all, you not wanting to go see a friend? That’s what’s crazy, Rainbow Dash, and you know it!”

Rainbow Dash slammed her hooves against the floor and stared down at it, breathing heavily, her mouth gaped open, drool falling and collecting in a puddle underneath her. Fluttershy crouched down and placed a hoof on Rainbow Dash’s shoulder.

Maybe I went a little too far... Twilight did say breaking everything too quickly could be dangerous, but I was okay when I found out. Surely Dashie is okay, too, right? she thought. Dashie’s way stronger than I am! I’m sure once she remembers, she’ll thank me for changing her from that monster she’d turned into!

“Get out,” Rainbow Dash said under her breath.

“What? Dashie, please, you have to believe me,” Fluttershy said, leaning her head down towards her friend. “Just concentrate on the memories. You’ll see! This isn’t you, Dashie! This is all a dream!”

Rainbow Dash pushed Fluttershy away and swung her head upward. Her eyes were glowing bright green, and her breathing continued to intensify. She put a hoof up against her brow and shook her head back and forth.

Those eyes! Fluttershy thought, and gasped as she took a quick step backwards.

“Get out of here!” Rainbow Dash screamed, bright green firing from her eyes, illuminating the room like a camera flash. Fluttershy bolted for the door, slamming it open and taking off into the night sky. Rainbow Dash gripped her head and fell to the floor, sobbing uncontrollably and screaming in agony.

Fluttershy flew south as fast as she could,back towards Ponyville. Green lighting blazed through the sky behind her, flashing its light across the landscape.

“What have I done? What have I done?” she chanted to herself over and over, tears streaming from her eyes and blowing back into the wind as she shot through the air.

This... she thought, her mouth widening as she recalled the green glow coming from Rainbow Dash’s eyes. This isn’t Rainbow Dash’s dream!

“What have I done?!” Fluttershy screamed at the top of her lungs.

Author's Note:

if you haven't read it yet, go check out The conquering of Love - Chapter 0! It's a short chapter based on a 3-panel comic done by Zoarvek!

Chapter 3! Now we're getting into the thick of it!

Oh, Fluttershy. You wanted to change Dashie from a monster, but you may have just done the opposite...

Do you know whose dream this is yet? Are you even more confused than before? Are you sure of your guess?

ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN!? Twilight seems pretty sure! Celestia has a guess! Fluttershy is very sure whose dream it's NOT!

But what will happen next time? Stay tuned, you'll see soon enough. ;)

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