• Published 16th Jun 2020
  • 487 Views, 11 Comments

The Power of Two - Locomotion



A young changeling runs away from home, only to be attacked by timberwolves in the Everfree Forest. Fortunately, Locomotion is on hoof to save her - but little do they know that she has a spy on her tail...

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Chapter 13: Meeting the Elements - Rainbow Dash

Since Surfie didn't have much else to do that day, Locomotion invited her to hang out at Steamer's house for the rest of the afternoon. Surfie was only too happy to accept, and they spent a few leisurely hours relaxing in the living room while she told Hornette about her hobbies and interests in outdoor activities, including her namesake sport. Hornette couldn't fully understand the appeal of riding huge waves on what sounded like a really narrow raft, but still enjoyed hearing about it.

Surfie left shortly before dinnertime, and after a light meal of daffodil sandwiches, Locomotion and Hornette spent the rest of the day watching some of his favourite Rodney the Railway Engine videos until the young changeling decided to turn in. Privately, she wasn't looking forward to meeting Rainbow Dash; Locomotion had already warned her about how edgy and defensive the daredevil Pegasus could be, and even as she drifted off to sleep, Hornette couldn't help brooding over how she would react to seeing her up close. Her bedtime story, which by now had become something of an evening ritual, helped to hold back any unsettling dreams, but she was still feeling uneasy by the following afternoon. She paced back and forth in her room, murmuring anxiously as she brooded over the outcome;

“I sure hope she doesn't lash out at me like Angel did. Once was bad enough. And that Scootaloo pony – is she really gonna side with Sweetie-Belle and Apple Bloom, or......ugh, come on, Hornette, snap out of it!” she interrupted herself in an agitated tone. “What harm can any of them do with Twilight around?!”

“Something up, Hornette?”

Hornette stopped pacing and looked up to see an equally unsettled Locomotion standing in the doorway. “Nothing,” she replied quietly. “Just trying to soothe my nerves is all.”

“Why, because of Rainbow Dash?” Locomotion frowned sympathetically when the young insectoid nodded her reply. “Yeah, I've been kinda dreading it myself. From what Scoot had been telling me, that mare's really been blowing her safety valves over the past fortnight,” he confided. “It's a good thing Soarin's gonna be there to keep her in line.”

“Will he really, though?” asked Hornette doubtfully. “You did say it was part of the Wonderbolts' job to protect Equestria from creatures like me...didn't you?”

Locomotion smiled faintly. “Well...only in times of extreme danger,” he observed, thinking back to Spike's rampage. “That sort of thing is usually down to the various branches of the Equestrian Armed Forces. Besides, if I know Wing Commander Soarin Starr, he wouldn't hurt a fly without good reason.”

“And that Scootaloo you told me about...does she really mean what she says about...?”

“I should darn well hope so,” murmured Locomotion doubtfully; but his train of thought was shortly interrupted by a knock at the front door, followed by the sound of his uncle calling him downstairs. “Oh well...time to go face the music, I guess,” and he trotted briskly out of the room.

Quietly wondering what music had to do with meeting a belligerent Pegasus, Hornette timidly followed suit as far as the top of the staircase and peered into the hallway below, trying to listen in on the conversation without being noticed. A young, orange-coated Pegasus mare, only a year or so younger than Locomotion, greeted him cheerfully as she entered, followed closely by Twilight and a baby-blue stallion with a darker blue mane and tail.

“Hey, Scootaloo,” said Locomotion, trying to sound casual. “How's it going?”

“Pretty good, thanks,” replied the young mare with a smile. “Everything go okay with Pinkie yesterday?”

Locomotion chuckled lightly in spite of himself. “Better than I could have hoped for. She actually in...”

“Alright, enough chit-chat, let's get this over with. Where's this no-good bug-pony you want me to meet?” A third Pegasus, roughly the same age as Twilight, stepped into the house looking very surly. Hornette gulped and shied away; judging by the prismatic mane and tail, she didn't even need to guess who this pony was.

Locomotion's nonchalant facade gave way to a disapproving deadpan; “And a happy Hearts and Hooves Day to you too, Rainbow Dash,” he reproached.

“Come on, Dashie,” coaxed the stallion. “At least give her a chance.”

Rainbow Dash only scowled in reply. “I'm surprised with you, Soarin,” she groused sullenly. “Going all soft in the head over some changeling – have you forgotten they tried to invade us?!”

“No we haven't, Rainbow Dash,” interrupted Twilight sternly, “and there's no need to be so aggressive about the whole deal! I know you're...”

“Hello?! This is a changeling we're talking about, not some weakling butterfly!” Rainbow Dash shot back. “Besides, how do you know this Hornet isn't up to...”

“AHEM!!!” Locomotion noisily cleared his throat. “Her name is Hornette, thank you very much.”

“Kindly shut up and let the big ponies talk, will you, Loco!”

“Excuse me?! Just because I'm younger doesn't give you the right to treat me like an inferior being!”

Hornette suppressed an agitated groan as she listened to the two ponies arguing. Maybe now wasn't such a good time to show her face, she thought – but before she could even turn to head back, Twilight noticed her peering over the bannister and levitated her down to ground level. The young changeling, taken by surprise, wriggled and flailed in a bid to break free, but Twilight's grip was too strong.

“Alright, you two, that's enough,” she interrupted again, casting a particularly reproachful glance towards Rainbow Dash as she rested Hornette between them. “You don't want to make a bad impression on our newest resident, do you?”

Quietly gulping down the lump of fear that had been building up in her throat, Hornette nervously looked up towards the three Pegasi. “Uh...hello?” she stammered in her politest voice.

But her timid attempt to sound friendly had little effect on Rainbow Dash, who narrowed her eyes and stared her down in a deadly manner. “Alright, Horsefly...”

“Hornette!!” corrected Locomotion sharply; but Rainbow Dash took no notice.

“...I don't know who or what you think you are,” she continued threateningly, “but if you think, after what your kind have tried to do to us, that I'm gonna welcome you with open arms straight off the bat, then you can go kiss my tail!”

Twilight slapped a hoof to her face with exasperation. “Dash!” she snapped. “What did I just tell you about making a good impression?!”

“Stuff good impressions!” snarled Rainbow Dash. “I never wanted to meet that bug-eyed succubus anyway!”

“You've got some nerve,” retorted Locomotion indignantly, “calling her a 'bug-eyed succubus'! You're not exactly behaving like a lady yourself!”

Before Rainbow Dash could return his fire, Hornette suddenly noticed a much smaller pony hanging from a bassinet against her breast. It squeaked and fidgeted eagerly, trying to attract her attention. Immediately forgetting to be scared, she gazed in awe and reached out a hoof; “Oh, gosh,” she gasped. “You have your own foal?”

“Yes I do!” barked Rainbow Dash, swiping Hornette's hoof away and making her lock up again in shock. “And you can keep your dirty hooves off of him!”

Locomotion gritted his teeth, his right eye twitching as he battled to keep his temper in check, and Twilight glared harshly at the rainbow-maned Pegasus. But before either of them could say anything, she turned back towards the doorway saying, “Anyway, I've got better things to do than mess around with changelings.”

At last, Twilight found her voice; “Now just a minute, Rainbow!” she burst out crossly. “You haven't even got to know her yet!”

“So what?!” huffed Rainbow Dash rudely. “It's not as if that oversized beetle's gonna be any different to the others! Good and bye!” and she sprang into the air like a rocket.

Fuming with rage, Locomotion shook an angry hoof in her general direction. “ALWAYS A PLEASURE TALKING WITH YOU!!!!” he hollered at the top of his voice.

Hornette, on the other hoof, was so wounded by Rainbow Dash's hurtful approach that she couldn't bring herself to say anything. She hung her head with shame, almost ready to burst into tears.

Noticing the pain in her expression, Scootaloo sidled up to her and rested a gentle hoof on her shoulder. “Sorry about Rainbow Dash,” she whispered kindly. “She's just a bit freaked out because of the whole Canterlot invasion malarkey. You needn't take her seriously.” She paused for a few seconds in case Hornette wanted to speak up, but got no reply from the distraught changeling, so she added, “If it makes you feel any better, I actually kinda like you.”

Blinking away the few tears that had welled up in her eyes, Hornette cautiously looked up. “Really?”

“Well, Sweetie-Belle and Apple Bloom never had anything against you, so why should I?” said Scootaloo matter-of-factly. She removed her hoof and held it out for Hornette to shake; “I'm Scootaloo, by the way.”

“And I'm Soarin,” added the stallion. “You'll have to excuse Rainbow Dash; she's a bit temperamental at the best of times, especially when she's wary of someone. You'll get used to her eventually.”

His words of wisdom made Hornette feel a little better, and she accepted Scootaloo's hoof with a small, shaky smile. “So...you don't think ill of me?”

“Nope,” affirmed Soarin, “and neither did little Scram Jet, now you come to mention it. He actually seemed kinda keen to see you, as far as I could tell.”

“Scram Jet? Who's...”

“Mine and Dash's little colt – and Scootaloo's foster brother,” explained Soarin promptly. “Mind you, he's like that with every new face he meets, regardless of the species.”

Hornette smiled again, this time a lot more wistfully. “I just wish I could have met him properly,” she murmured.

“That's alright, Hornette,” soothed Locomotion, who by now had managed to cool off thanks to Soarin and Scootaloo's kindness. “I'm sure you will once Rainbow Dash starts warming to you.” He looked out of the doorway again, scowling slightly. “If only there was some way we could make her realise...”

Scootaloo looked thoughtfully at Soarin and Hornette. “Well...the weather patrol could do with a few extra hooves at the moment, what with all the clouds that need clearing,” she suggested. “Maybe Hornette could come up and help us?”

“Hmm...there's an idea,” agreed Soarin. “Have you ever worked on a weather team before, Hornette?”

“Um...not really. We never had any such things back home.”

Geez, that'd explain a lot, thought Soarin wryly. “Well then, how would you like me and Scoot to teach you a few tricks of the trade? It'd be a good chance to stretch your wings.”

Hornette's eyes lit up, and her wings started to buzz with anticipation. “Ooh, yes please,” she conceded without a second thought.
“That okay with you, Twilight?”

Twilight looked doubtful. “I don't have a problem with it, Soarin,” she said gravely, “but it's Loco I'm worried about. He won't want to let Hornette out of his sights for too long, and I'm not sure I dare risk traumatising him either.”

Soarin and Scootaloo frowned in understanding, and Locomotion furrowed his brow as he tried to make up his mind. He could see how eager Hornette was to take to the sky and exercise her wings, something she hadn't been able to do since her arrival; but at the same time, he didn't feel too comfortable leaving her in the charge of two relatively unfamiliar Pegasi, even under Twilight's supervision.

But after hearing what the lavender alicorn had to say and seeing the uncertainty in Locomotion's expression, Hornette had all but forgotten to feel excited. She looked down at her hooves again in disappointment; “Well...I don't have to if he doesn't want me to,” she mumbled sadly.

Locomotion sighed heavily. There was only one solution he could think of, but was it really worth the risk, he asked himself uncertainly? Judging by the sorrow in Hornette's eyes, the ache in his chest from seeing her so disheartened, and most of all her earlier delight at being invited to fly with Soarin and Scootaloo, the answer had to be... “Twilight,” he ventured, “do you still remember that wing spell you used on Rarity many years ago?”

“Yes, why?” asked Twilight, perplexed.

“Can you cast it on me?”

Hornette's head sprang up in awe and disbelief. Did Locomotion really just ask to join her up in the sky? Scootaloo, on the other hoof, was so taken aback that she almost laughed. “What?! You fly with us? You can't be serious!” she exclaimed.

“Oh, I'm dead serious, Scoot – for once.”

“What's wrong with all that?” quizzed Hornette.

“Hornette, it's Loco,” stated Scootaloo with a blunt smirk. “He suffers from vertigo – i.e., he's scared of heights.”

“Uh...correction, Scoot, it's acrophobia, not vertigo – and I don't!” retorted Locomotion firmly. “It's just the flying part that I'm afraid of.”

“And how is that not being afraid of heights?!” objected Scootaloo incredulously.

“Scoot, I've ridden trains along ridges high up in the mountains with really deep ravines below! As long as I'm on solid ground, I'm fine – but when I'm several thousand hooves up in the air without so much as a safety net to cushion my fall...that's a different story.”

“Says the stallion who refuses to even go on an aeroplane! Honestly, Loco, just because that one plane crashed with Flash and your...”

“SCOOT...” Quickly realising where Scootaloo was headed, Locomotion hastily interrupted, only lowering his voice again once she had stopped talking. “...can we please keep REA 759 out of this? I don't really want to be discussing it in Hornette's presence.”

Scootaloo was about to make another comeback, but quickly remembered how sensitive a topic this was for the red-furred railway enthusiast, and simply nodded her consent.

Twilight, meanwhile, was so stunned by Locomotion's decision that she had remained strangely silent throughout the argument. Only now did she manage to find her voice again. “You really want to go up there with us?” she asked.

Locomotion nodded resolutely. “I may not be too keen on flying, but I don't wanna get in the way of Hornette interacting with others,” he reasoned. “I'd rather be up there in the clouds than down here with a gloomy changeling.”

Hornette was so touched by Locomotion's resolve that she could feel her eyes glossing over. “You...you're really doing this for me?” she whispered.

“If that's okay with you, Hornette. I'd feel a lot easier knowing you were okay than just hanging around and fretting over your safety.”

Hornette smiled warmly. “Thank you, Loco. That means so much to me.”

“That's very noble of you, Loco,” agreed Twilight. “Luckily for you,” she added, “I actually managed to find a much better spell only a few weeks ago. It only lasts twelve hours, but your wings will be a lot stronger and sturdier than the ones I gave Rarity. Now, are you absolutely certain you want to go ahead with this?”

“As certain as I'll ever be,” affirmed Locomotion bravely.

“Alright then – here goes.”

Twilight stepped back a few yards to allow plenty of room between herself and Locomotion, and set her horn aglow. Sparks of magic began to dance around the hallway, and Locomotion watched as her brightening aura lifted him into the air, wrapping itself around his body like a blanket. His shoulders began to tingle, and the bubble of magic burst into a blinding flash of light – and finally, he felt himself drifting back down until his hooves made contact with the floor again.

“Did it work?” he asked, cautiously opening his eyes.

“Try flexing your shoulders,” said Soarin.

Locomotion did as he was told – and goggled in amazement when he felt something unfurl itself from his sides. Sure enough, when he looked back towards his shoulders, he could see a fine, strong pair of Pegasus wings affixed to them, spread out in all their feathery glory.

Scootaloo whistled in amazement. “That is one sexy wingspan you've got there, Loco,” she remarked.

“Chuffing Nora,” exclaimed Locomotion, “so I have!” He ran a hoof through the feathers, suppressing a chuckle of disbelief. “And they feel so real too!”

Hornette was even more mesmerised by the sight of Locomotion's new wings – almost entranced, in fact! Her mouth hung open as she gazed upon his figure through misty eyes. “So handsome,” she breathed, barely able to help herself she was so awestruck; but perhaps luckily for her, Locomotion didn't seem to hear.

“Well,” he mused, “this is gonna be pretty interesting – me, an alicorn for a day...without the same magic levels, anyhow.” He chuckled weakly at his own quip as a hint of unease slipped back into his expression. “I just hope I'm not filling in my own hospital bill.”

“You won't be,” soothed Soarin. “Me and Scoot have got your back, Loco, and I'm sure Twilight and Hortensia...”

“Hornette.”

“...sorry – Hornette...will be glad to cheer you on as well.”

Finally breaking out of her reverie, Hornette gave a wholehearted smile of agreement. “That goes double for me, Loco,” she whispered. “I know I'm not much at the...what do you call it...the 'mechanics' of Pegasus flight, but I'll be behind you all the way, I promise.”

Almost at once, Locomotion began to feel a bit better. “Alright then,” he said to himself, “let's give these wings a whirl.”

And so they did. Before setting off to begin their cloud clearing, Soarin and Scootaloo took Locomotion and Hornette to a nearby hillock for some crash flight training, with Twilight tagging along. Naturally, the young unicorn found it a daunting experience at first – his wing movements were jerky and erratic, and he did indeed crash a few times after making the fatal error of looking down. But Hornette was as good as her word, and with her encouragement and Soarin and Scootaloo's guidance (plus some extra Pegasus magic from Twilight), his flapping gradually became smoother and better synchronised until he was prancing and swooping gracefully, like a reindeer in the sky.

Only a few hooves above them, Rainbow Dash was grumbling bitterly to herself as she kicked some of the clouds to vapour – until she happened to see what was going on immediately below her patch. There she saw her husband and adopted daughter hovering nearby, along with Twilight and...Locomotion? Flying? Her jaw dropped open in disbelief, and she drifted down to land on her haunches on a nearby cloud, unable to comprehend the sight that met her eyes. She knew, just as well as Scootaloo and Twilight, that Locomotion absolutely dreaded the idea of flying; yet here he was, high up in the sky, sporting a new pair of wings – and of his own accord! But what really baffled her was that Hornette was willing him on for all her worth, and with a level of joy and faith that no cold-hearted tyrant would even dare to display. Scram Jet saw what was going on, and squealed enthusiastically; but Rainbow Dash was so overwhelmed that she didn't know what to think.

Before long, Locomotion managed to perfect his flying technique, and after a quick pep talk from Soarin, he and Hornette set off for their designated work area. The young changeling beamed with happiness as she danced among the clouds, occasionally stopping to break one up with a graceful pirouette. Locomotion allowed himself a warm smile of his own as he listened to the low hum of her wings – it was so gratifying, he thought, to see Hornette so light-hearted and free of care. How he wished that this moment could have lasted forever...

But all good things must come to an end, and today was no exception. The sun was just touching down upon the horizon by the time they had finished, and the two teenagers settled down for a breather on one of the few remaining clouds, shortly joined by Soarin, Scootaloo and Twilight.

“Wow,” murmured Locomotion, tired but pleased. “That was quite an experience. Never knew flying could be such fun.”

Soarin smiled appreciatively. “You did really well for a rookie,” he praised. “Anyone would think you were enjoying yourself, the way you were going.”

“Well, I've got you guys to thank for that,” said Locomotion humbly, “and especially Hornette.”

The young insectoid giggled shyly and looked away, trying to hide her blush. “Oh, Loco,” she murmured modestly, “you needn't thank me for anything. I'm just happy you were willing to share this with me.”

“No, really, Hornette,” insisted Locomotion softly, “I never would have had the courage if you hadn't cheered me on. You've been a great source of support, and I'm really grateful for it.”

Scootaloo smirked cheekily at his observation. “Well, maybe you wouldn't need one if you didn't keep tripping every time you tried to take off, you clumsy idiot!” she teased with a mock scold.

Locomotion only chuckled with her and brushed it off; but Hornette was mortified. “Hey!” she burst out defensively. “That's not fair! Loco can't help it if...”

“Hey, cool it, Hornette,” soothed Locomotion promptly. “Scootaloo's just joking – she didn't mean anything by that.”

“But...but she called you a...” spluttered Hornette, baffled.

“An idiot?” smirked Locomotion facetiously. “I know I am – I'm the dictionary definition of one.” His eyes took on a devilish glint as he turned his attention back to Scootaloo. “Besides, two can play at that game, can't they?”

Scootaloo's cheeky expression turned into an uneasy grin. “If you start up the chicken jokes, Loco,” she warned, “I am so gonna hurt you.”

“What, call you names? Now why in heck's name would I call you anything other than...” and before anyone realised what he was up to, Locomotion began crowing out Scootaloo's name in a mischievous yodel; “SCOOTALOO-OO-OO! SCOOTALOO-OO-OO! SCOOTALOO-OO-OO!”

Twilight and Soarin fell about laughing at Locomotion's comical melody, and though Scootaloo tried to keep a straight face, even she couldn't stifle her laugher as she raised her voice at him, “Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!!!”

“You walked right into that one, Scoot!” chortled Locomotion triumphantly.

Unable to formulate a response, Hornette turned to gaze at Twilight with a look of baffled disbelief. Twilight only chuckled; “Don't take them seriously, Hornette,” she soothed, directing her a broad wink. “They're just having a bit of harmless banter – nothing to worry about.”

Hornette gave a weak smile in reply; but secretly, she shook her head incredulously. Some jokes she could understand, but two ponies teasing each other just for the mutual enjoyment of it? That was just too crazy for her to grasp. “Ponies are so weird,” she murmured wryly to herself.

“In all seriousness, though,” went on Soarin kindly, “you and Loco did wonders with those clouds, and I should think we all appreciated your help.” He sighed wistfully and stared into space. “Just a shame Dashie couldn't join in on all the fun.”

“Wrong again, Soar!” All five of them looked up to see Rainbow Dash coming into land right next to them.

“And just where have you been?” demanded Twilight.

“Hello?” retorted Rainbow Dash. “Clearing clouds, just like I said I would be – and keeping an eye on that changeling while I was on the job!” Locomotion groaned and began muttering to himself, but the rainbow-maned Pegasus just smirked and said, “I know what you're thinking, Loco, and you'll be relieved to know that the answer is 'don't be ridiculous'. I saw what you lot were up to down there – never thought I'd see Loco taking flight, let alone with a changeling cheering him on – but hey, if she's being such a buddy, then why gripe about it?” She shuffled over to Hornette and wrapped a wing around her shoulders in a patronising reassurance, surreptitiously unfastening Scram Jet's bassinet as she addressed the young changeling. “You're okay, Hoverfly...”

Locomotion cut her off with a frustrated growl. “For the last time, Dash, it's Hornette!” he snapped crossly.

“What he said,” muttered Rainbow Dash, who wasn't really taking any notice. “Just make sure you behave yourself, and I won't have to lay a hoof on you, okay?”

“Um...okay,” stuttered Hornette, unsure whether to feel flattered or afraid.

“There's a good girl. Anyway, love to stay and chat, but I've got stuff that needs doing. Catch you later.”

Only then, as Rainbow Dash was taking off, did Soarin realise that their little colt had been left behind. He was still in his bassinet, but this had somehow slipped free from his mother's shoulders. “Wait a minute, Dash,” he exclaimed, “you've forgotten Scram Jet!”

“Thanks for looking after him, babe!” came the seemingly apathetic reply.

At first, Soarin was at a complete loss for words; but when he looked back towards Scram Jet, he quickly realised what Rainbow Dash was up to. “Well,” he remarked brightly as he lifted the eager, squirming colt out of the bassinet, “looks like you've got your wish, Hornette. Wanna hold him?”

“Oh, yes please, Mr Starr!” squeaked Hornette with delight.

Soarin smiled, and gently handed Scram Jet over to her. Hornette purred affectionately as she gave the three-year-old colt a friendly nuzzle; but Locomotion couldn't share in her contentment. Heaving a deep sigh, he hung his head wearily; “I don't know,” he mumbled. “That Rainbow Dash is just impossible.”

“Ah, buck up, Loco,” said Scootaloo. “If I know Dash, she's likely just apologising in her own way.”

“What, by patronising Hornette?” muttered Locomotion in a sarcastic deadpan. “Yeah, great form of apology.”

“I'm sure she'll get a real one eventually,” soothed Soarin. “Scootaloo's right, though; Dashie does seem to be warming to Hornette. She's just too proud to admit it, that's all.”

Locomotion could only nod thoughtfully in reply. This wasn't the first time Rainbow Dash had been so slow to forgive an old nemesis, but from what he had been told, she always came round in the end. Besides, he told himself optimistically, at least Hornette still had the support of the other five Friendship Councillors. The distant chime of the clock tower bell broke him out of his reverie, at which point Scootaloo perked up slightly. “Gosh, is that the time?” she remarked.

“What's up, Scoot?”

“Nothing much, Loco. It's just getting on a bit,” explained Scootaloo, “and I promised Rumble I'd meet him at half-six.”

Hornette arched a puzzled eyebrow as she looked up from Scram Jet. “Rumble?” she repeated.

“Yes, he's my coltfriend. We're gonna go see a movie together, and then he's taking me out for dinner; so yeah, I'm afraid I'm gonna have to make a move now.” But before she did so, Scootaloo gave Hornette a friendly smile before adding, “It sure was cool hanging out with you, though. Hope to see you again,” and she glided away towards home.

“Guess I'd better be on my way too,” decided Soarin, fastening Scram Jet's bassinet to his chest. “It's my turn to fill in the weather report tonight. Thanks again for your help, Loco and Hornette.”

“Oh...you're very welcome,” smiled Hornette as she passed his son back to him.

Locomotion shrugged modestly. “Ah, just glad we could make ourselves useful, I guess,” he observed. But as Soarin left for the weather office, bidding Hornette the best of luck as he did so, he couldn't help looking back at his wings with a strangely wistful expression in his eyes. “Never thought I'd be sorry to lose these wings, though.”

Hornette's humble smile turned into a more sympathetic one as she gave him a gentle pat on his shoulder. “I think you look just as good without them,” she whispered.

“Really?”

The young insectoid nodded. “Wings or no wings, you're still the same pony who's treated me so kindly these last three weeks. I couldn't possibly ask for more.”

This made Locomotion feel a lot happier with himself. “Thanks, Hornette. I guess you're right – even if today was...kinda fun, it's not like I really need these things.” He looked up to Twilight; “So, I guess we'll be seeing you later this evening then?”

“I should think so, once I've sent off that probation report to Princess Celestia,” affirmed Twilight. “Shouldn't take me too long.”

At the mention of Celestia, an idea suddenly flew into Hornette's head. “Um...actually, Twilight,” she ventured, “I, uh...I hope I'm not asking too much of you...I mean, you've done an awful lot for me already, you and Loco...” She paused, looking shyly down at her hooves.

“Go on,” prompted Twilight kindly.

“...can I send her a letter of my own? Just to thank her for letting me stay here?”

Locomotion's eyes lit up. “That's not such a bad idea!” he remarked. “In fact, better idea still – why don't we make a friendship report out of it, just like old times? I bet she'll find it kinda flattering, especially from a changeling.”

Twilight could only smile as a feeling of nostalgia flowed through her mind. Friendship reports used to be a frequent staple of her life before ascension as an alicorn princess, but neither she nor her friends had written one for years, and she had to admit she rather missed those days. “I don't see why not,” she mused. “Let's head over to my castle, and we can start drafting one out.”

“You bet!” said Locomotion, eagerly spreading his wings again and leaping into the air with Hornette close behind him. With a light chuckle, Twilight jumped off the cloud and glided after them. It had been a funny old day, she thought, but from the warm smile of unspoken gratitude on Hornette's face and the look of light-hearted glee on Locomotion's, at least it had been an enjoyable one. More importantly, at least one of the criteria of the young changeling's probation had been met, and she was clearly all the better for it. Though the road to Equestrian citizenship had been a little bumpy at best, it seemed that things were really starting to look up for her...

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