• Published 3rd Dec 2017
  • 3,933 Views, 130 Comments

Heart of the Force - fluttershyfan17

In the midst of Order 66, Jedi Knight Kaleb Taymar is transported to Equestria. Starting a new life, he becomes friends with the Main 6. However, the Force has awakened in Equestra, and their lives will never be the same.

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Chapter 6: Phoenix Rising

The sun was shining through the closed window, warming the room despite the cold temperature outside. The autumn wind rattled the window slightly, as leaves of red, brown, orange, and yellow blew past, some of them sticking to the windowsill. Kaleb sat cross-legged on the floor, his hands turned upward as the wrists sat on his knees. His eyes were closed as he was beginning the meditation, reciting the mantra before reaching out to the Force, clearing his mind and focusing on emptying the emotions that lay on his consciousness.

He had done this many nights, with the moments of panic now attacking him in his sleep as well as during the day. Pondering why these attacks were coming to him now had offered no results, as they were clouded in mystery by a mysterious fog that crept over his mind every time they occurred. The deeper he went into the meditation, the more difficult it became to decipher the meaning. Sighing, he finished the meditation before opening his eyes and getting up the ground.

It had been six weeks since Kaleb had arrived in Equestria, and he was already getting used to the idea that this was his home. It helped that he had set up a familiar routine that kept him busy and, in some cases, out of trouble. Waking up at six every morning, he meditated before getting dressed and went out to exercise. Usually this consisted in the form of a run, with Spike occasionally tagging along despite his tiredness in the mornings. Kaleb and Spike got to know each other better because of these runs, and their bond became closer. After running, Kaleb would shower and have a breakfast consisting of multigrain toast with jam and an apple with coffee.

He would then go to Sweet Apple Acres, where he would work out in the apple orchards or wherever Applejack needed him to go. The harvest was in full swing, and they needed all of his help to get everything organized for the big harvest festival they had coming up in a few weeks. Kaleb usually broke for lunch later in the afternoon than most of the Apple family, though he did take short breaks to get water and hear one of Granny Smith’s stories. He would walk from their farm to Fluttershy’s cottage using an old backroad that avoided the business of town where they would have tea and sandwiches with biscuits. This became a triweekly event for them, where they would discuss the day’s events and other musings, with the occasional story from the past. Fluttershy was careful to avoid discussing Kaleb’s past, and he was grateful for it. While he was there, he often took the opportunity to meet with the animals, helping with a small problem on occasion. They both enjoyed each other’s company and were becoming close friends. After that, Kaleb went back to the farm, where he would work before heading back to Twilight’s for dinner and spending time with her and Spike, often engaging in work at the library or the biweekly board game night, before going to bed.

However, this morning Kaleb chose to shower first and then get dressed and have breakfast before starting the day. Wearing a blue fall jacket and a gray long sleeved shirt with jeans, he took a long bag from the corner that was almost his height. He put it around his shoulder using an adjustable strap, with it sitting diagonally on his back just barely touching the ground. Kaleb walked out the door to face the windy fall day, with the dark gray clouds covering the overcast sky. He walked at a brisk pace, going his usual route into town and in the direction of the Everfree forest, except he took a shortcut that led him through the forest and into the clearing by the stream. Setting the bag down by the tree, he opened the bag and took out a staff that reached from the ground to his chin. He had found it while in the apple orchards one day and had kept it, waiting a good day to use it.

Kaleb walked into the middle of the clearing and reached to the Force, clearing his mind so that no emotions could interfere. Feeling every creature and movement around him, settled himself in a stance, holding the staff with both hands as he pointed it toward the trees. Taking short steps, he walked all around before whipping around and moving the staff to hit an imaginary opponent. He twirled the staff around, blocking and deflecting their blows, while occasionally offering a wild winded attack with a controlled strike. Moving quite often, he ran around the clearing, gaining momentum and incorporating jumps along with his attacks, bouncing off the trunks of the trees at five feet in the air or just leaping into the air. After the final jump, he returned the staff to a starting position and after a few moments, set it back in its bag.

Kaleb took a small meditation break before continuing. After calming his breathing, he walked back to the center of the clearing and unclipped his lightsaber from his belt. Gazing at the hilt for a second, he ignited it, the blue blade cutting through the fog of the overcast day. He took up a similar fighting stance as before, except as his left leg leaned forward and is right bent to take the weight, he moved the lightsaber to the level of his chin, pointing it in the direction that his left arm stretched out, the hand in a downward open palm. Moving slower than before, he made his ways through the forms, focusing in particular on the defensive aspect.

“Form three, Soresu. Focus on the defensive, tight motions, maintain calm in the eye of the storm,” Kaleb muttered under his breath, going through the motions of the forms. “Go faster, close the distance.” The movements became faster, and he found himself using a deflective slash to close the distance and block the oncoming fire. Moving rapidly, Kaleb imagined deflecting the blaster and trying to go into a moving meditation. His concentration eventually broke, and he paused for a second.

“Combine with Form four, Ataru. Go on the offensive NOW!”

He became more aggressive with his attacks, eventually using the same technique he did with the staff to gain momentum to jump. This time, he added in more acrobatics with flips, kicks, and spins to attack and evade. Kaleb could only keep this up for a limited amount of time, for within a minute he returned to the previous form while still maintaining the speed.

He kept up this battle pattern for several more rotations, eventually going back to Ataru to finish the match. Drawing on the Force, he ran at an unthinkable speed, jumping up to meet several trees that were oddly close together. Planting his foot on the trunk eight feet into the air, he twisted his body and turned around, jumping into the air and aiming for the center of the clearing. Bending both of his knees to bring calves inwards, he raised the lightsaber with two hands above his head, adapting the Falling Leaf position.

All of a sudden, the moment of panic came, blinding all of his senses and making him tense up as a roar of sound hit him. Kaleb immediately turned off and dropped his lightsaber, the hilt landing in the grass with a dull thud. Hitting the ground hard, he did a front roll that diverted his impact. Beads of sweat hanged on his face, new from the panic and Kaleb felt tears in his eyes. Immediately running to the edge of the clearing, he lay in the grass, waiting for the ringing in his right ear to stop. Eventually, the sound went away, and Kaleb tried to calm his shaking limbs by watching the movement of the stream and keeping his eye fixated on a leaf that had been caught on a rock. Watching it struggle against the tide, he felt an urge to hold it back and to place it on the ground but the tide got the better of it and swept it downstream. Taking a deep breath, he stood up and steadied himself against the tree trunk.

What’s happening to me and why, Kaleb thought to himself, wiping the sweat and tears from his face. I should be better than this. A Jedi should have control over their emotions. There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no chaos, there is harmony. This emotional chaos is taking over my mind.

Kaleb’s thoughts were interrupted by a movement near him, and he found Fluttershy right next to him, looking concerned. As if he had read her thoughts, Kaleb spoke first. “I’m okay, I just think I got a tension headache from that last movement. I’ll be fine as long as I lay here for a few minutes.”

Fluttershy nodded. “I had no idea Jedi could fight like that,” she said timidly, looking at Kaleb with hesitation and a small ounce of fear.

Kaleb realized that he must had scared her. “Only as a last resort. I have always tried to avoid unnecessary conflict. I’m sorry if I scared you, I didn’t intend to.” He finished that last line with a hint of anxiety, worried about how she might react.

Fluttershy looked at him with understanding. “It’s okay, I know a little bit from Twilight that the Jedi were more than fighters.” She rummaged through her bag and took out a muffin wrapped up in parchment paper. “Cranberry muffin?”

Kaleb smiled; the first time he had done so this morning. “Thank you. It looks delicious.” He took the muffin from her hoof and began to eat. Fluttershy looked at the ground, her eyes fixed on a pair of grasshoppers. He put the parchment paper into a pocket when he was done and turned to her.

“Kaleb, can I ask you a question?” Fluttershy asked. Kaleb said yes and she hesitated. “I was wondering, if your species, uh well, with their diet…” She trailed away.

“You want to know whether my species eats meat,” Kaleb finished. She nodded. He readjusted his position. “Humans are omnivores, so we can survive on both meat and plants. There are some who do not eat meat called vegetarians. They believe that they should not cause an animal to suffer just to satisfy their hunger. Vegans go even farther, believing that they should not consume anything from an animal.”

“Are you a vegetarian, or do you…” Fluttershy trailed away, trying not to think of the alternative.

Sighing, he put his hands on his knees. “I tired to avoid it unless I had to. Often times, we had to eat what was available, especially during times of food shortages, which occurred regularly. Although I hated it, I had to keep my strength and stamina up.” He turned to Fluttershy, his eyes filled with honesty. “I swear Fluttershy, I never ate any animal who I communicated with, and I ate the smallest amount I could. Ponies' diets are different from humans, so Dr. Bluejay has been communicating with me so I don’t end up in the hospital for lack of protein and iron.”

Fluttershy paused for a moment and then spoke. “Oh dear, I hope you work something out. I guess that must explain the amount of beans and lentils that Twilight has in her pantry, along with the nuts and whole grains.”

Kaleb nodded with a hint of amusement in his eye. “The amount of vegetarian cookbooks Twilight has in the library often help along with the suggestions he’s been making. They don’t go into too much detail, so a lot of it is experimentation.”

“You’ll have to make those recipes for me sometime. I’m sure they must be really good.” Fluttershy replied.

“I will,” Kaleb said as he looked at the pocket watch Twilight had lent him. “I should probably be going. Since Applejack isn’t going to be at the farm for long, I need to ask her what else needs to be covered.” He got up along with Fluttershy, and he picked up the lightsaber and started to put the bag over his shoulder. “Tell Princess Celestia I said hello and that I wish I could be at the brunch. I’ll probably see her tomorrow since she’s staying overnight. Are we still on for tea this afternoon?”

“We are, I can’t wait to see you then. See you, Kaleb!” Fluttershy said enthusiastically as she waved. Kaleb started out of the woods and back up the road to Sweet Apple Acres.

It was a few hours later when Kaleb made his way into town to stop by Sugarcube Corner, walking at a brisk pace. Opening the door, he found that the place was empty and that many of the decorations had been put down. The bag containing his staff bumped against the doorframe as he walked in and it was set against the wall. Mrs. Cake was busying cleaning up and nearly dropped an empty platter when Kaleb caught it with his fast reflexes.

“Thank you, Kaleb. Do you mind helping me carry the rest of these dishes to the kitchen if you have time?”

“Of course,” Kaleb said as he piled on the remaining dishes from the table and walked to the kitchen, setting them down near an open sink. “I’m assuming the brunch wrapped up early.”

Mrs. Cake set her dishes down and wiped the sweat off with a towel. “Yes, the Princess had a meeting with the mayor that she had to attend. Everypony left early.” She indicated for Kaleb to follow her, and they walked to a table where the few leftover sandwiches were wrapped up in saran wrap. “I’m sorry that most of the food was taken before you had the chance, but please feel free to take the rest.”

With a nod of gratitude, Kaleb took the small club with tomato, lettuce, and brie along with setting the bag on his back. With a wave to Mrs. Cake, he exited the bakery and walked to Twilight’s to pick up his pack and drop off the staff. “Since Spike is fixing this bookshelf, I should probably clear my stuff at least. “Kaleb thought, taking the straps to his shoulders. “He’s still young and a lot of the equipment is delicate.” Closing the door, he walked back downstairs and walked back outside, heading in the direction of Fluttershy’s cottage.

Walking at a brisk pace, he made the journey is less time than he had anticipated. After crossing the bridge, he came to the door and knocked. There was no response. “Fluttershy, it’s me Kaleb…”

Before he could finish the sentence, the door opened to reveal Angel, who dragged him in quickly before shutting the door. Fluttershy appeared to be tending to a bird who appeared to be sick. Most of the bird’s feathers were gone, and the few that remained were in random locations all over her body. The coughs shook her, and appeared to be shivering, sending spasms all over her aching body. Fluttershy had taken a thermometer and was reading the temperature. “Oh my, you poor thing. You’re burning up. Kaleb!”

Walking over, Kaleb knelt down at the bird’s level and looked at it. “How long has it been like this? I’ve never seen a bird get this sick before.”

“I don’t know,” Fluttershy responded, looking at Kaleb with concern. “Philomena was like this at the brunch, and I took her afterwards when Princess Celestia left.”

Kaleb looked confused. “Wait, Philomena is Princess Celestia’s bird?” Fluttershy nodded. “You did tell her that you took Philomena to look after her, right.” She didn’t respond.

Before Kaleb could let out another word, she appealed to him. “I couldn’t just leave the poor thing there. Since the princess is obviously too busy to care for her, I thought I would do it as a favor. I have to try, even I don’t succeed.”

Pausing for a moment, Kaleb thought while Philomena’s coughs rattled the small bed she was in. “I will try to help you any way that I can. Applejack gave me an extended break today for working during the brunch, so I have plenty of time.” Kaleb raised his hand to his forehead and gave a salute with two fingers. “Kaleb Taymar at your service.”

Fluttershy chuckled a little despite the seriousness of the situation. “Right. Mostly, I’ll just need you to just check up on the animals around the area, especially since the weather’s getting colder. There’s a box of blankets with a list for the animals who need them. You won’t need to go too deep into the Everfree Forest, just around the cottage and the clearing.”

Kaleb nodded. “I’ll get right on it. Send Angel if you need me.” Fluttershy’s ears twitched to indicate she had heard him. Rising up, he headed over to the small table by the door to find the carboard box with various blankets and quilts. Many of them were old, done in a patch pelt style of various colors and sizes. He grabbed the box and headed out of the back door to the backyard. Taking a look at the list, he set off around the yard, heading in the direction of the forest.

It was not difficult to check up on the animals, but it took a long time to figure out how to place the blankets. Mr. Chipmunk and his family were happy to see Kaleb again, but it took some thinking of where to place the blanket so it would not block the burrow, which presented a similar challenge to the beavers, hedgehogs, rabbits, beaver, badgers, and snakes. Even for Kaleb, he was a little bit intimidated by the bear who resided near Fluttershy’s cottage and just decided it would be best to place the blanket on the ground in front of him before slowly backing away. Since the birds flew south for the winter, he didn’t need to give them blankets but checked up on them anyway, making sure that they were ready for the journey that they would soon be going on. Often, he would use the birdseed from the shed or earthworms to make sure they had enough food. It was difficult task to find the earthworms but ultimately rewarding for the birds.

After completing the list, Kaleb made his way back to the cottage through the backyard. Opening the door, he closed it quietly to find that Twilight had arrived and was talking to Fluttershy in a hushed but worried voice. He stayed back in the kitchen, listening to the conversation.

“I’ve tried everything, Twilight: medicine, homemade soup, Hummingway, humidity, aromatherapy, a warm bath, ointment. I thought it would be easy to nurse her back to health, but she’s worse than ever.

“This is bad, Fluttershy. I know you had good intentions, but you have got to return the Princess’s pet.”

Fluttershy protested softly but then sighed with realization. “You’re right. Okay let’s go.”

Twilight clapped her hooves together. “If we hurry, we can put her back before anypony realizes she’s missing…”

She gasped before she could finish the sentence. There was a fierce knocking at the door which opened to reveal two of Celestia’s guards, dressed in their armor looking serious. Before the guards could look around, Fluttershy threw a blanket on top of Philomena’s bed.

The first guard spoke followed by the second. “We were told we could find Twilight Sparkle here. We regret to inform you, miss, that the royal pet has gone missing.”

Twilight looked around nervously, with Fluttershy pretending to cough to cover Philomena’s own. “Really? You don’t say! Wow, this air is even drier than I thought.” She continued coughing while they turned their heads.

“Miss, may we ask what is under…” The guard was cut off by Kaleb speaking as he walked through the living room.

“I think I can explain,” Kaleb said as he stopped in front of the two guards. Drawing on the Force, he adapted a casual expression and voice as he waved his hand. “The princess’s pet is here, but you will not remember that when you leave this place.”

The guards became dreamy eyed and repeated in a voice of wonder. “The princess’s pet is here, but we will not remember that when you leave this place.”

Kaleb continued. “You will continue searching until dusk, but you will not remember the royal pet is here until tomorrow morning when the Princess awakens from her sleep.” The guards repeated the information in that same tone. “Move along.” With a nod to Kaleb, the guards left the cottage, going back across the small bridge in the direction of the town.

Twilight and Fluttershy both stared at him with looks of confusion and amazement. Fluttershy removed the blanket to reveal Philomena. It was a moment later that the confusion turned to anger from Twilight. “Kaleb, are you mad! You have no idea what the princess is gonna do if she finds out that you did…whatever…to her guards or that Fluttershy took her pet. What if she banishes you to Equestria? Or throws you away in a dungeon. Or banish you and then throw you in a dungeon in the place that she banishes you to!?”

Kaleb held up a hand. “Please, I can explain to both of you. I’m sorry that I did that unannounced but I may have an idea.”

Twilight waited, nodding while Fluttershy looked at him with a curiosity. “Fluttershy, you said that you have tried everything and he’s still sick, right” She nodded, whispering a small response. “What Philomena needs is more time to rest and recover, so that time might be what cures this sickness or that Fluttershy could have more time to figure out what is the cure. Since Princess Celestia is staying in Ponyville overnight, she can pick her up in the morning.”

Fluttershy and Twilight both looked with understanding but still looked concerned. “What did you use with the guards? This isn’t one of our chess games, Kaleb, this is real life.”

Kaleb coughed before continuing. “That was a Jedi mind trick, which influences the thoughts of the affected. It is often used to solve conflicts in a non-violent manner. I do not like using it on the guards as much as you do, but the beliefs I was taught said that the only reason it should be used is if it is to serve the greater good.”

He walked over to the small bed where Philomena was lying down, and knelt down, reaching out to her with the Force. His outstretched hand trembled, and it was only like that for a few seconds before he stood back up and looked back at Fluttershy and Twilight. “She really is in a bad condition. My fear is that if we move her now, she will become worse or might not survive the journey. It is better to leave her to rest than to rush the recovery, so that she will feel as little pain as possible. I will not allow an innocent animal to come to harm.”

The moment of panic came with this thought, and Kaleb was ready for it, burying it deep in his mind. Although his body and breathing did not indicate the attack, his eyes felt the usual tearing sensation and he blinked to hold it back. Fluttershy, looking concerned, whispered something to Twilight whose eyes turned to sympathy.

Twilight walked towards him. “I’m sorry Kaleb, I had no idea her condition was this bad. Still, I don’t feel comfortable lying towards the princess.”

“I understand, Twilight. I don’t feel comfortable either,” Kaleb responded. “But I’m just trying to do what’s best for Philomena. When tomorrow morning comes, I will take full responsibility for my actions.”

With a nod, he allowed both of them to come up and hug him quickly. Even though they were close, he still felt farther away. Checking his pocket watch, he looked out the window and thought before speaking. “I have to get back to Sweet Apple Acres to start my shift. We’re going until dark because of the harvest festival. Fluttershy, I’ll return here to check up on Philomena before I head back to Twilight’s if that is okay with you? I’ll have to leave my pack here as well.”

“Yes, of course you can. I might need your help since Angel is going to be tired from today,” Fluttershy assured, her eyes looking determined. “Besides, I might need to check your neck again since the work at the farm is more intensive now.”

“I can stay here for another half hour before returning back to the library.” Twilight added, wiping her mane out of her eyes.

Kaleb began to walk towards the door, looking back at them gratefully. “Thank you! I should really go but I’ll see you both sometime tonight.” He tied the laces of his boots before walking out of the door.

With a grunt and a heave, Kaleb moved the handle of the large iron press, causing the cider to flow easily into the barrel. Pausing for a moment, he waited for Big Mac to put a cork on the top and flip it, rolling the barrel to the other side of the barn. After he got the next one ready, he put his hands on the handle before Big Mac put his arm down, shaking his head to indicate he would take over.

For the past several hours, they had been producing the cider when night rolled in, using the apples picked from the day. He saw Applejack heading towards him, sweat on her forehead as well with a look of exhaustion. “Thank you again for staying late to help. We could not have gotten this much done without you.”

Kaleb breathed heavily before responding, still catching his breath. “You’re welcome, Applejack. You know, I could stay for another hour or so before heading out.”

Applejack shook her head. “You’ve done enough for the day. Besides, Rainbow Dash told me that the last big thunderstorm of the season is going to be tonight, and I don’t want you walking back in it.” She shuddered as the windows rattled from the wind. “Try to get back quickly. You shouldn’t get caught in it.”

Kaleb put on his fall jacket before looking back at her. “It will have to be faster than this to catch me.” Waving to Big Mac, he walked through the door and out of the farm gates before starting to run. Choosing the backroad path, he had always taken to the cottage, he ran at a moderate pace. The wind howled in his ear as he jumped over the occasional tree limb that had broken off. Soon, it began to rain and it drenched him to the point of absurdity, with the combination of rain and wind blowing the sweat off of his face.

He started faster when the echoes of thunder started to roar, nearly to the point of sprinting trying to get to Fluttershy’s house. The good thing about the adrenaline of running was it kept the panic at bay, long enough for him to get to the cottage in time. A flash of heat lightning illuminated the cottage against the night sky, and Kaleb ran over the bridge to the front door. He knocked desperately, and it was opened by one of the beavers he had encountered earlier, who rushed him inside and slammed the door. It indicated to a bookcase underneath the stairs, that revealed a set of stairs when the right book was pulled.

Closing the bookcase behind him, he went down the stairs slowly to find a large carpeted room with hundreds of spools of yarn. The craft tables were littered with various objects and designs. Philomena lied down in her small bed near one of the tables, and in the center was a tent made up of sheets and held aloft by rope connecting to hooks on the wall. Although the room was dark, he could see most of the objects due to the light emulating from the tent. Kaleb knocked on the ground and a small voice said he could enter. He opened the flap to find Fluttershy huddled underneath the mass of pillow and blankets, reading a book using the light from a flashlight that was in a shape of a lantern. Kaleb’s pack was also one of the corners.

“Kaleb! Thank goodness, I was beginning to worry,” Fluttershy exclaimed quietly, indicating for him to come in. “I thought Applejack would have let you out before it was dark. How is your neck holding up?”

Kaleb took off his jacket and left it outside. He entered the tent and crawled his way to the opposite end facing her. “It’s holding up well for now. She let me out an hour early because of the storm. It started getting really bad by the time I was nearly halfway here.” She handed him a towel to dry his face and some of his clothes. He took one of the blankets and wrapped himself with it.

“She’s doing okay.” Fluttershy began, seeing Kaleb’s eyes wander toward the side of the tent. “Her fever is going down and I finally managed to get her to sleep. I had her take some mild fever medication, so that helping. Hopefully she should be okay by tomorrow. The beavers are sleeping down here as well because their dam might get flooded by the rain.”

“If anyone can help her, Fluttershy, it’s you,” Kaleb responded, seeing a smaller glimmer of pride in her eyes. “But I have to ask; what’s up with all of the yarn?”

Fluttershy chuckled quietly with amusement. “Well, I discovered the room when I bought the house and it’s where I do my secret hobby, not secret to you anyway.” She blushed as she spoke, getting quieter with every word. “I call it, uh, the Chamber of, um Extreme Knitting. I’ve worked on over eighty projects down here.” Her ears twitched with embarrassment.

Smiling, Kaleb found the name fitting. “The name certainly fits the room, and knitting is an impressive hobby."

Before Kaleb could finish the sentence, a loud clap of thunder boomed from the sky, appearing to shake the room just by the sound. Fluttershy jumped and hid under the blankets, and the moment of panic that Kaleb had been trying to hold off hit him like a stone wall. The sweat poured down from his face as his heart began to beat faster in his chest. His upper body began to shake with the worst tremors appearing in his hands and arms, the breathing becoming faster and more restricted. Pain roared through Kaleb’s mind as the cracks of lightning that followed reverberated in his head.

Fluttershy had reappeared from under the blankets and the moment she saw Kaleb, moved towards him slowly. “Kaleb, you’re okay. I know you’re upset right now, but you’re going to be okay. The storm is not going to hurt us. Look at me, follow my breathing,” She assured in a soft and gentle voice. “Is it okay if I hold your hand?”

He nodded and she took it with her hoof, feeling it tighten around her. “Just look into my eyes and follow my breathing. Breathe in and out, in and out, you’re doing good. You’re with me right now, nothing can hurt you.” She continued reassuring him, breathing in and out slowly with him and held his hand while the tremors lessened in severity. It took about ten minutes before the tremors stopped completely and his breathing calmed to it’s normal rate. It took a while for the tension in his hands to go down and finally they let go of her palms. They sat in silence for another couple of minutes before Kaleb finally spoke.

“Thank you. I’ve always been afraid of thunderstorms, since I was young. That must have triggered the panic attack along with the fogginess. I don’t want to talk about it any further.”

“Whatever makes you feel the most comfortable,” Fluttershy responded gently. “I’ve seen animals have panic attacks, and I’ve learned how to support them during it.”

Kaleb nodded, coughing into his sleeve. “That’s very kind of you, I’m sure they’re very glad,” He looked at Fluttershy, thinking before continuing. “I think we both need to get our mind off of what happened. When Twilight interviewed me, I showed her a few things I had with me that helped her with the information. I could show it to you. It would calm me and there’s somewhere I want to show you.”

“I would love to,” Fluttershy answered, shifting her position towards the left side of the tent. “I’ve always been curious about your world. It might be easier if you could sit next to me.”

Kaleb obliged after grabbing his pack and moved from the one side of the tent to the other, sitting to the right of her. Taking his pillow from where he was, added it to the other pillow, reclining to feel more comfortable and match Fluttershy.

He took out the rectangular device that held the planetary database first, turning it on. The hologram added a blue light to the tent that matched the lantern. “This device contains a planetary index of most of the planets discovered in my galaxy. When I arrived in Ponyville, the countryside reminded me of a planet that I visited a few times,” Kaleb began as he chose the planet and entered a quick passcode. “I would like to welcome you to Naboo.”

Fluttershy gasped as the hologram jumped up. It showed a planet with green, tan, and blue patches scattered throughout, while various pictures began to load. Kaleb brought up one of the images, which showed a giant meadow surrounded by giant waterfalls that flowed into a small lake and eventually a river. The water was a clear blue-green that shined in the sunlight which surrounded smaller islands that had formed in the lake that were no more than twenty-five to fifty feet each in length. Among the meadow, various rocks and animals roamed, along with a stunning aurora of wildflowers, each color standing out.

“It’s beautiful,” Fluttershy whispered, in amazement of the sight on the screen.

“The Lake Country in Naboo is one of the most stunning things you can witness. I’ve been there a few times and every time it was like seeing a brand-new experience. You always catch a glimpse of something new,” Kaleb explained, stifling a yawn. “Some other time, I’ll have to show you more sights including the capital city and the Gungan kingdoms. I have one more thing.”

Turning off the screen, he placed the device back in the pack before taking out a metallic sphere, holding it in one hand. “It would probably be easier to see this if I turn out the lantern if that’s alright.”

Fluttershy nodded, and Kaleb put the tent into darkness with a flick of a switch. Pressing a small button on the sphere, the light poured out of the top, showing thousands of different specs of holographic light. Her gasp was quieter, but her expression was one of sheer awe. Kaleb adjusted one of the settings from a small control panel on the side that he opened, and the scale adjusted to fit the tent.

“Every speck of light you see is a star or a planet, each planet having its own unique way of life. There are thousands out there.”

He glanced over to see her eyes closed as she drifted to sleep. It was in that moment that he realized the effect the map reader held on the tent. It was like a private night sky, with the stars twinkling as if it was real. The lights had a dappled on Fluttershy’s fur, illuminating her pink mane in a dozen of tiny stars. Her wings stretched slightly with every breath. Kaleb pulled the blankets over her with care and carefully moved out of the tent, taking the map reader with him.

Setting up a pillow and blanket with care near one of the piles of yarn, he laid back and looked at the ceiling. He thought about how Fluttershy was worried and helped when he had the panic attack, and then how she had responded. Rotating the map reader in his hand, he realized the way the light had reflected in her eyes, highlighting the turquoise in them. Eventually closing his eyes, he soon fell to sleep.

Kaleb woke up earlier than usual due to his light sleep and looked around the room to find Philomena still asleep in her bed. Fluttershy was still resting as well, and he was careful not to disturb her slumber when he crept up the stairs into the living room. It was still relatively dark out when he looked out of the window, and he grabbed some honey wheat cereal and poured a bowl for himself, taking an apple and beginning to eat at the small table in the kitchen. It was a quiet ordeal, but a refreshing change of pace. About a half hour later, he heard steps coming to the kitchen, and Fluttershy emerged with Philomena resting in a blanket.

“Oh dear, her fever’s gone down but she still doesn’t look very well. I’m sure that the Princess will be understanding,” she cooed as she set her down on the basket in the living room.

Kaleb walked up to Fluttershy, his eyes in a sympathetic gaze. “Well, at least you did your best. She will be grateful. Want me to keep an eye on her while you get breakfast?”

“Thank you, Kaleb,” Fluttershy yawned, as she headed toward the kitchen.

Sitting down on the opposite the basket, Kaleb kept his eye on Philomena while eating the rest of his apple. A few seconds later, he decided this would be a good opportunity to test his conversational skills. “So, living with the princesses must be nice. Though, they must be as different as day and night.”

Philomena burst into flames.

Kaleb grabbed a towel that was hanging on the staircase and tried to beat the fire out, only realizing that the bird was now in ashes. He knelt down on one knee in shock, only to see Fluttershy enter the room and drop her bowl. She walked slowly towards the basket where the ashes were and began to cry, her choked sobs echoing through the cottage. Kaleb put a hand on her shoulder and comforted her.

“It’s okay, you did your best, it’s a part of life.” He said gently, offering her a box of tissues from the side table. In that moment, Kaleb heard a knocking on the door and opened it to find Princess Celestia staring back at him.

“Princess Celestia, I’m sorry, Fluttershy did…”

The princess held up a hoof, making Kaleb go silent. He let her in as she looked at the ashes and began to speak. “Oh, stop fooling around, Philomena. You’re scaring Fluttershy and Kaleb.”

In that moment, the ashes began to rise in a swirling motion and they began to glow red hot. In a mini burst of heat, Philomena was born anew, squawking as she landed gracefully by her side. Fluttershy wiped the tears from her eyes as she gazed at the healthy pet. “How? I don’t understand.”

“She’s quite a sight, isn’t she? Nothing unusual for a phoenix. Isn’t that right, Philomena?”

The bird trilled in response, flying back towards Fluttershy and Kaleb and setting herself on the table.

“You see, a phoenix is a majestic and magical bird. While it appears healthy and happy most of the time, every so often it must renew itself by shedding all of its feathers and bursting into flame. Rather melodramatic, if you ask me. It then rises from the ashes, fresh as a daisy. All just a normal part of the life cycle of a phoenix. I'm afraid mischievous little Philomena here took the occasion to have a little fun with you, Fluttershy.”

Philomena let out a guilty squeal, looking at her with apologetic eyes.

Fluttershy petted her gently. “Apology accepted. I suppose I should apologize as well. I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions and next time I’ll ask before taking matters into my own hooves.”

“I would like to apologize as well, Princess. Looking back, using the Force was an overreaction and I should have considered things more carefully before acting,” Kaleb added, rubbing his hand through his hair.

“Both of your apologies have been accepted”, Celestia replied calmly, calling to Philomena to perch on her shoulder. “Kaleb, it looks like Ponyville suits you well. Speaking of which…” She took a small envelope out of her small bag and handed it to him. “I forget to tell Twilight to give this to you at the brunch. I know it’s a little last minute, but I do hope you’ll be able to make it.”

Philomena squeaked at Kaleb. “My jokes are not that bad,” Kaleb responded.

Celestia chuckled. “I don’t know, Kaleb. That joke you told her wasn’t exactly original. I appreciate the effort but try to be more creative in the future. I must be going now, but I hope you have a nice day.”

Kaleb and Fluttershy waved as the princess left the cottage. They both grabbed their bowls of cereal and went back to the living room. Collapsing on the couch, they both stared at each other waiting for the other to speak. Finally, Kaleb broke the silence.

“I suppose I should open this envelope from her. I have no idea what it could be. Any ideas?”

Fluttershy held back a look of amusement as she probably knew what Celestia had given him. “I’m not giving anything away.”

Chuckling, Kaleb opened the envelope to find a golden ticket. Printed on high quality paper, it contained a number in fancy lettering, along with the words Grand Galloping Gala. “What’s the Grand Galloping Gala?”

“It’s one of the biggest royal balls in Canterlot. There’s plenty to do, but the highlight for me is the royal gardens. The flowers in Canterlot’s private garden only bloom on the night of the event, and there are so many birds there that I would just love to meet.”

Kaleb looked intrigued just hearing about the excitement. “That sounds wonderful. It looks like Rarity is going to have to fit me for a suit. Hopefully a week’s notice is enough time.”

Fluttershy cleared both their dishes after insisting that Kaleb relax for a few minutes before he left. As he was lacing on his boots, she approached him with a look of kindness.

“I cannot thank you enough Kaleb for everything you did to help Philomena. It was very generous of you to lend your time. I really enjoyed your presentation last night, but you need to show me more when I’m not so tired.”

Kaleb smiled. “I would do it again in a heartbeat. Same time for tea?”

“As always,” Fluttershy replied as he waved goodbye and left. Crossing the bridge, he made his way into town, taking his time to look at birds leaving early for the winter. 

Author's Note:

Hello! I know it's been a long time since I've uploaded but things just got extremely busy with finals. Anyway, this chapter was a lot of fun to write, especially with the lightsaber combat at the beginning. It was fascinating doing the research into the Jedi combat forms. As always, may the Force be with you!

Edited by Menace of the Mines