• Published 25th Jul 2012
  • 7,866 Views, 279 Comments

Random Elements - Stryke



An alternate Mane Cast cross over into the normal Equestia, things go down hill from there.

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Chapter 10

Twilight Sparkle awoke as the early light of dawn entered in through where her blinds used to be and disturbed her rest. She groaned out loud as the events of the previous night immediately sprang to mind. Though she did have to admit that the sight of Trixie and Sparks attempting to hide behind each other to escape her wrath had been pretty funny. She’d forgiven them eventually though what with there having been a pony in need after all. Thankfully Pinkamena had been completely fine after a quick casting of ‘lesson forty-seven: cure minor injury’ administered by herself, and hadn’t needed to visit the hospital out-of-town. Twilight had also just been relieved that Sparks hadn’t done anything too silly when she’d run away.

Somewhat aggravating that she’d trotted back with her tail between her legs while the rest of them had all still been out scouring Ponyville and the surrounding countryside with a fine tooth comb. But now Sparks was safely back in the library and that was what really mattered.

Lying there with her eyes closed hard to keep out the light of the morning sun intent on disturbing her rest, Twilight went through her daily mental checklist for waking up. Spike hadn’t woken her up, so she hadn’t slept in late again which was good. She was actually in bed, so she hadn’t fallen asleep while studying late into the night. There was a heavy weight on one of her hooves though. Now that was a new one.

Finally opening her eyes she was somewhat relieved to find out it was in fact Fluttershy lying on top of the covers. Twilight had been concerned that there’d been no sign of the Shadowbolt last night, but by the time she’d got in after midnight and dealt with Sparks and Trixie she had been far, far too tired to worry what a rogue pegasi might get up to without proper supervision. She figured that Fluttershy must have come back sometime after she’d fallen asleep. Though she did wonder why Fluttershy had chosen to sleep on top of the covers rather than just getting into the double bed with her like she had when they’d shared it yesterday. I mean it’s not like she would have actually cared if she'd woken me up in the middle of the night, Twilight thought to herself.

Twilight realised it was odd seeing her completely naked like this for the first time since she’d met this other version of her gentle friend. Sure most ponies in the town always went about unclothed, but Fluttershy wasn’t even wearing her favourite pair of flying goggles around her neck. Looking around she spotted that they’d been placed neatly on top of her folded up jumpsuit in the corner in the room.

Remembering she’d been surprised by the similarities between Rarity and her double when she’d watched Rock sleep; Twilight carefully observed the subject before her. Sure the haircut was a little spikier, there were Nightmare Moon’s little improvements hidden away in her wings, and there was the cutie mark of course, but otherwise with her at rest like this, Twilight would have struggled to tell the difference between this mare and her friend. Twilight knew from experience that despite Fluttershy’s seeming frailness that she could throw around a full-grown bear with ease and her double was undoubtedly no different.

Fluttershy rubbed her eyes and yawned. Realising she had been lying on Twilight all night she jumped into the air and stayed aloft as she looked down at the bed. “Sorry about that,” she said softly. “I don’t suppose you want breakfast do you?”

Twilight Sparkle had to check again, but no there was the winged skull on Fluttershy’s flank confirming which pegasus she was talking to. “Sure, I guess,” she said, after only a brief hesitation. “I’ll help you out. It’s far too early for Spike to be up anyway.”

Their combined culinary skills weren’t up to much at all, but they just about managed to come up with a bowl of oatmeal each. After they finished eating Twilight was aflame with curiosity. She didn’t want to ask why Fluttershy was being so mellow and easy-going this morning for fear of her usual hostile self coming back, but she now had a chance to ask some questions about the other Equestria. Rock, Dash and Pinkamena had been keeping themselves far too busy to pin down while Sparks... well Twilight found the less time she spent with her double the happier she was going to be.

“Would you mind if I asked a few questions about back home?” she asked, raising a cup of camomile tea to her lips while mentally bracing herself for the return of the Shadowbolt’s usual bad attitude.

“Sure, why not?” Fluttershy replied, as she made herself comfortable. Twilight just about managed to keep her mouth shut, as she struggled not to blurt out several questions about Fluttershy’s odd behaviour this morning. She really had expected another argument rather than immediate agreement.

Twilight fetched a parchment and a quill with her magic to make some notes. “Rock mentioned that you still do Winter Wrap Up and the Running of the Leaves, but I was wondering about some of the other Equestrian holidays like Nightmare Night?”

“Oh it still went on, if a bit half-heartedly,” Fluttershy said. “It was a bit of a shock after all for everypony to find out the boogey-pony turned out to be real after all.”

Twilight raised an eyebrow. “So Nightmare Moon didn’t mind?” she asked quizzically.

“Not at all,” Fluttershy said, with an easy-going smile. “In fact she was really quite overjoyed to find out there’s a night where everypony has to give her candy or else. She even did a tour on the chariot around most of the major towns and brought back a haul of sweets that you wouldn’t believe. Her half-breed pegasi guards were struggling to keep her and the chariot in the air towards the end her sack was that big.”

What about Hearth’s Warming Eve?” Twilight asked, as she was struggling to banish the mental image of Nightmare Moon swimming in a veritable pool of candy.

“That went on too, I even got to play Commander Hurricane in the Canterlot play,” said Fluttershy, tapping a hoof on her chest with a certain amount of pride. “Was a bit off-putting though with Nightmare Moon front and centre in the audience laughing her flank off at every single thing.”

Twilight raised her other eyebrow. “She found it funny? Did you add some comedy to the script?”

“No, the only real addition that was made was Spitfire’s extra scene as Private Pansy, as she insisted on doing some action after I forced her take the role.” Fluttershy grinned. “I thought it was a pretty cool fight myself, even if she is a total pain in the flank as a number two.”

“So why did Nightmare Moon find it funny?” Twilight said. So Spitfire is a Shadowbolt there? Memo to self: do not tell Rainbow Dash about that ever, she thought to herself with a little shudder at how she knew her friend would react.

“I honestly don’t know. It’s just one of those things that she refuses to talk about. Like what exactly happened with her sister, or how everything continues to grow without the sun.”

Twilight was about to press her for more details when they were interrupted by Trixie making her way down the stairs and singing happily to herself.

Watch as Trixie works her gypsy magic, eye of newt and cinnamon... Good morning you two.”

Twilight suppressed a flash of irritation at the interruption and that Trixie looked to be in far too good a mood for it being so early in the morning. She herself didn’t normally get up before ten—even with Spike’s assistance—so raising with the dawn was a new and deeply unpleasant experience for her.

"As soon as Sparks has woken up, Trixie's going to be heading out," she announced. "There's a couple of ponies in town that Trixie could do with talking to, your friend Rarity especially, and if Trixie's out with somepony that looks like you. Well then maybe Trixie won't get herself lynched." The magician let out a little wry chuckle at that.

“How is Pinkamena?" asked Twilight.

"Gone already," Trixie said. "She did leave a note that she'd be back later today though."

Twilight gave her some directions about the town and wished her good luck with Rarity; figuring that she was going to need it. Trixie retreated back upstairs to try and get Sparks up and attempt to persuade her that she really did want to leave the relative sanctuary of the library today.

~~~

Rarity was tweaking a new design on one of her poniquins. The whole outfit did look good, true, but perhaps the ruffles might be too much? She was just about to go the attack with a pair of scissors when she heard somepony knocking on the door.

“Feel free to come in,” she trilled, hoping for a suitably wealthy new customer to add to her client list

The door opened and Rock traipsed in slowly. Rarity was about to make some pointed comments about her usual noxious stench and the events of the previous morning when her better graces brought her up short. Rock looked thoroughly miserable to the point it was practically coming of in waves. She wouldn’t have believed if somepony else had told it to her, but she could even see the tracks where tears had cut a course through the perpetual mask of dirt and grease that covered Rock’s face.

"Rock, whatever could have happened to you?" she asked, rushing to the other unicorn's side.

"Oh Rarity, I've ruined everything!" Rock exclaimed, burying her face into the mane of her double.

Rarity gingerly patted Rock on her shoulder. "I'm sure it's not that bad, darling,” she said, trying not to mind too much her double sniveling into her perfectly styled mane. “Now why don't I put the kettle on and you can tell me what happened."

Once Rock had been calmed down somewhat and was sipping something suitably soothing from one of Rarity's china teacups the story started to come out.

"So, I take it that dog is Applejack's then? It's not on their farm at all back home," asked Rock.

"Winona? Yes, she's Applejack's. She got her a couple years back to keep her company I believe."

"Well, she woke me up this morning,” said Rock darkly. “Guess she thought I was an intruder, what with me sleeping in the barn, and she jumped on me snarling and barking her damn-fool head off." Rock's ears drooped and she looked down at the floor miserably. "Don't remember much of what happened next, but by the time Big Macintosh got me to calm down, poor Applebloom was crying from the racket I'd been making and Granny Smith was yelling about what all the commotion was. After that he wanted me off the farm and told me to only come back when I got my head sorted out right...”

“I just really don't like dogs," said Rock, finishing off with her voice completely flat.

Considering Rock's history as a miner, Rarity really didn't have to be a Celestia's favourite student to work out why. "So how long were you their prisoner?" she asked softly.

Rock looked up sharply, her eyes wide with surprise. "How did you know?”

"It was just a guess. If admittedly an educated one," Rarity said, shrugging her shoulders. "You should talk about it though. It never helps keeping experiences like that bottled up."

Rock looked for a moment like she was going to argue that and then sighed. "I suppose you're right," she said, taking a sip of tea. "I was still pretty young when it happened, barely just a mare really. They came at night mounted on timber wolves and raided the camp looking for slaves. Everypony was running, the howls seemed to be coming from everywhere, I remember Tinder Box yelling for us to get organised, and then I got clubbed on the back of the head."

"How horrible," Rarity murmured.

"Woke up chained to one of their carts and all alone in the dark. I was only there for five days in the end before I was rescued by the other miners. Those five days seemed like they’d gone on forever though. Mainly filled with 'pony pulls the wagon, pony pulls the wagon' over and over..." Rock shuddered at the memory of those damned voices that never left her alone and barely let her sleep. “I honestly didn’t think I was ever going to get out of that hole,” Rock said, as her voice began to tremble. “And if the rest of the camp hadn’t been able to find me then I never would have.”

Rarity placed a comforting hoof around her double and then felt a big smile creeping across her face as a wonderful idea came to mind.

“You know...” she said slowly. “There’s actually a colony, just to the north-east of town, that I’m on pretty good terms with. We could go out there and be back in just a few hours. It just might help you get over that whole terrible affair by seeing that there’s nothing to be really scared of by them.”

Rock seemed to shrink right before Rarity’s eyes. Her usual gruff manner was completely gone leaving only a scared unicorn with none of her normal bluster. “I... I don’t think I...”

“I assure you that it’d be perfectly safe.”

“I...” Rock’s eyes darted around the room as she looked desperately for a way to get away. But Rarity had moved so she was blocking the nearest way out.

“Please, for me.” Rarity hit her with the full force of her winning personality all delivered in one utterly devastating smile.

“Okay, if you’re sure it’d be safe,” Rock said, making a little circling movement on the floor with one of her forehooves.

“Perfectly safe, I promise. Now I’ve just got to go get changed into something more suitable!” Rarity practically bounced out the room. This was going to be so much fun!

~~~

Rainbow Dash soared high across the skies above Ponyville. Normally she’d be throwing in a few of the more simple moves from her tricktionary just to keep her wings limber, or searching for a suitable cloud for the all important mid-morning snooze. Not today though as her eyes were locked to the streets far below. Finally spying her target, she locked her wings and dived.

The blue sparkly hat got closer, and closer, until she could almost see the colour of her double’s eyes. Breaking her descent with the barest moments to spare, Dash spread her wings to momentarily slow her descent and in one agile motion picked her unsuspecting other self up and pushed down hard blasting the both of them back up into the air. Her double didn’t even have time to scream before Dash touched them both down again just out of town by the lake.

Not giving her a chance to even get her breath back, Rainbow Dash started yelling, “you’ve only been here two days and you’ve already ruined my life, Dashie!” For some reason that annoyingly cute nickname that Pinkie called her all too often seemed appropriate for just how aggravated Rainbow Dash was right now with her other self.

Dashie just looked back at her with her eyes wide.

“I’ve just been cornered in an alley by Aloe and Lotus giggling about my ‘sensitive hooves’, whatever that means! Cloudkicker couldn’t stop laughing and making weird comments this morning when I tried to give my weather team meeting, and all I said was a quick ‘hello’ to Caramel when I went to get breakfast and he ran a mile just to get away from me! Everypony must think I’m some kind of loose party-pegasus after what you’ve been up to.” Rainbow Dash slumped down onto the grass. “And now I’ll never get into the Wonderbolts.”

Finally finding her voice again, Dashie just about managed to get out a “but,” before Dash jumped back up into her face again.

“How could I ever turn into a mare like you? I can’t even see how your Trixie likes you, and c’mon that’s Trixie of all ponies!” Rainbow Dash said harshly.

Seeing her double’s lower lip start to quiver, Rainbow Dash realised she might just have gone to far. It was too late though as Dashie started to cry in a full-blown display of waterworks.

Rainbow Dash attempted to mollify her angry tone somewhat, and said, “C’mon, stop crying. I’m sure we can work this out.”

“I don’t know what to do, my whole brain is crying!” Dashie wailed. Her tears were showing no sign of stopping anytime soon as they streamed down her face in torrents.

It was now Rainbow Dash that sat there staring at her double and struck dumb with what to do. Comforting upset ponies was really not something she was good at, being all too well aware that she lacked any form of tact entirely. That she’d been the one to upset Dashie was just a whole new level of uncomfortableness altogether.

Her tears finally slowing to a damp trickle, Dashie sniffed. “I’m leaving,” she announced, turning her back on Rainbow Dash. She spread her wings out and unsteadily took to the air.

As Rainbow Dash watch her fly out over the lake her face rapidly contorting as her concern skyrocketed. What is she doing?! Her techniques practically nonexistent! It’s almost like she doesn’t really know how to fly. Oh, pony-feathers... Rainbow Dash looked on in horror, as she saw Dashie perform the one fatal mistake that inexperienced flyers had an unfortunate tendency to do. But usually only once if they were without support. She looked down.

Not even stopping to think Rainbow Dash sprang upwards into the sky leaving a rainbow coloured jet stream behind her. She caught Dashie before she’d barely plummeted more than a few feet. Unfortunately there was a world of difference between the planned maneuver Dash had snatched her up with earlier and the full terrified body hug Dashie was giving her now, especially with her wings flailing against hers, and Dash realised she was struggling to maintain her place in the air.

Dashie screamed as she hugged on even tighter and the two pegasi tumbled wildly through the air in an uncontrolled descent towards the lake below.

“Calm down!” Rainbow Dash yelled, as loud as possible as the wind tried to steal her breath away. Dashie just about managed to nod in understanding before going limp against her.

Several moments later they were both safely back on the ground. “What exactly were you thinking?” asked Dash, trying not to sound too annoyed.

“I don’t think I was. I just wanted to get away,” admitted Dashie. "Especially after what you said about my Trixie given that half the time I don't think she likes me very much."

“But I thought you said you were marefriends or something yesterday?” Dash asked, scratching her head. “In the few moments that you weren't staring at me when we were walking over to Twilight’s you were going on about how you had such a great relationship with her.”

“I lied,” said Dashie, her usual smirk returning to her face. “It’s a thing that I do, though usually ponies just call it acting. Oh, we have our moments and we’re amazing together professionally, but I do have enough self-awareness to realise that I drive her up the wall. I just like to see ponies smile. Is that really so bad?”

“I guess not?” Rainbow Dash wasn’t entirely sure she knew what Dashie was talking about, but she had a good idea that making ponies smile didn’t involve the kind of parties that Pinkie threw.

“See, that’s what I always say! But no, she thinks that really special someponies are exclusive. Still I’ll make it up to her someday. Find her a nice, reliable mare that she can truly love and will love her back.”

“But what about you?”

Dashie laughed lightly tipping her hat that somehow had managed to remain placed on her head. “I’ll survive, and while I do love her in my own particular way, Trixie’s hurting and I really do want to see her happy. Even if that means she’s not with me.”

Rainbow Dash was stunned. She’d honestly thought that her double had nothing about her whatsoever, so to hear her ready to put another pony’s happiness above her own... Dash might not have had any practical experience of romantic relationships, but she could still definitely understand and respect that.

“C’mon, let’s get back to town and I’ll buy you a drink, or something,” said Dashie, as she checked she still had a few bits tucked away in her hat.

She turned to find the way back to Ponyville blocked by Rainbow Dash’s outstretched wing. “No way, Dashie,” said Dash with a grin. “That was a totally unacceptable and distinctly un-awesome display. Y’know what that means?”

“Uh, no?”

“I’m going to teach you how to fly properly. I’m the number one pegasus in Ponyville, so with my help I’ll have you flying like a pro in no time!” Rainbow Dash said, grinning with total confidence.

Dashie gulped nervously and then scrambled backwards with a start.

Rainbow Dash wheeled round to see what exactly had startled her double so badly.

"Heya, dudes," said Gilda, wearing a very nervous grin who had just landed behind them. "So, it's been awhile."

~~~

Rock had been minding her own business in the boutique for far too long and she was now thoroughly bored. Rock had flicked through a few of Rarity’s magazines before getting annoyed with the sheer vacuousness of it all. Then she’d had a look through some of Rarity’s rough designs, but she’d had to stop that as she’d caught herself making some notes with suggestions for improvements. Of course being bored did mean that she wasn’t in the state she’d been in earlier, but she wasn’t sure this was all that better. Still the sense that she’d let everypony down refused to leave her alone. She couldn’t imagine that Applejack would think much of her at all when she got back from Manehattan with her own double.

When Rarity finally deigned to make her arrival she was met by a full-on glare from Rock. “It took you almost an hour, just to put that on?” Rarity had wrapped herself in the dark cloak—the one that she normally saved for brooding—which with the hood up completely covered her body and shrouded her face.

“Yes, yes it did,” replied Rarity, matter of factly. “Shall we be off?”

Sometime later Rock and Rarity were trotting through the badlands to the north-east of town. Rock was getting more and more nervous as they were getting ever closer to the tunnels that would lead to the underground colony. That Rarity kept giggling to herself really wasn’t helping her nerves.

Rock finally had enough and stopped forcing Rarity to stop and see what was up. “I still don’t understand, Rarity. You make dresses for a living, you shouldn’t know anything about diamond dogs."

Rarity looked around to make sure they were the only living creature in sight. “I suppose this is far enough out that it should be safe.” She laughed and threw her hood back. Her eyes were shining with delight and two feral symbols had been painted on her cheeks. Rock gasped, she recognised the markings from her time in captivity. They were canine script. “Oh, I’ve never shown anypony this before!”

“Awhile back I got captured by them. Oh, my friends came to rescue me, not that I was never in any real danger of course. What none of them know is that after we left with all the gems of theirs that we could carry between us, I went back and took over.”

The cloak was cast aside and Empress Rarity, Tyrant of the Underdark was revealed in all her glory and splendour. Rock’s jaw dropped, her dress was frankly incredible. It was a riot of flawless black diamonds, ornate lace, fancy pleats, and what surely couldn’t be leather, could it? The shoes were inspired by Nightmare Moon, Rock was sure of it, but she had no idea what some of the other influences were. Topping the ensemble off was a truly gobsmackingly sparkly necklace with even more black diamonds and three sapphires as the centrepiece in the same arrangement as Rarity’s cutie mark. In the hooves of any other designer it would have just been a chaotic mess, this though could only be called a masterpiece.

“So do you like it?” asked Rarity shyly, in a manner completely opposed to how she was currently attired.

“...buh?” said Rock, still staring in quiet awe.

“I’ll take that as a yes.”

“I think I’m in love.”

Rarity giggled. “Shush, we’ve got two too many narcissists with those not so great and powerful magicians hanging around. Last thing we need is another one.”

“That’s not really leather, is it?” she asked, eyeing the straps after she finally got back some of her wits.

“Ocean leather actually,” Rarity said. “Made out of kelp by sea ponies if you’d believe it. Stunningly expensive of course, but worth it I think for this particular outfit.” Rock could only vigorously nod her head in agreement.

“So you’re in charge of a whole colony?” asked Rock, still struggling with the concept.

“Oh, the deal is they either send me enough gems for all my clothes designing needs over the course of the month, or I turn up and they have to serve my every whim for a day. Does save the time when I used to have go gem hunting myself. You'd be surprised, but the arrangement really does work and I only pop over to the caves very rarely now as I do prefer the gems to the fawning.”

A polite cough drew the attention of the two unicorns. Rover had poked his head out of a newly formed tunnel and nodded to Rarity. “Grrreetings, Miss Rarity. You and other not-so-pretty pony will come now.”

Rock trotted through the tunnels following the diamond dog and Rarity. She knew she would normally be absolutely terrified, but the presence of her double trotting ahead with such confidence that she owned the place and everything in it was definitely reassuring. Still that this colony didn’t seem to reek anywhere near as badly as the one she’d been taken to did help too. Rock couldn’t imagine how Rarity had accomplished it, but she actually seemed to have persuaded the diamond dogs to bathe occasionally.

They arrived at the main chamber and Rock’s jaw dropped once more. The gem-encrusted granite throne she wasn’t too surprised by. The massive banners with crude paintings of what was clearly Rarity’s face on the other hoof were definitely more so.

Noticing her double’s gaze, Rarity said, “I assure you, those were entirely their idea.”

Later they were both drinking some impressively fine wine from golden goblets and Rock was in a genuinely good mood. That this was while she was currently at the bottom of a cave and surrounded by diamond dogs was absolutely staggering.

“So, feeling better?” asked Rarity, from her place on her granite throne.

“Definitely,” replied Rock, downing her goblet and waving it at a nearby diamond dog who dutifully obliged with a refill.

“That’s good,” said Rarity, with some relief. She was having the time of her life. Rarity had occasionally felt guilty at exploiting the diamond dogs like this, but being able to share it with another pony who’d understand was turning out to be incredibly fun. Sure she’d have to spend a few afternoons out with Spike to make up for the gems she wouldn’t be getting as tribute this month, but the little dragon was good company and seeing Rock smile like this was making it more than all worthwhile.

“So you’ve never had problems keeping this lot in line?”

“Oh no. They know would happen if they tried that.” Out of Rock’s line of sight Spot reflexively put his paws against his head and slowly backed away just in case.

“Did have one of their matriarchs turn up once though,” added Rarity. “She heard about me and had come prepared to challenge me for the colony.” She smiled remembering the rangy diamond dog coming at her with mud clogged in her ear holes.

“How did that go?”

“Miss Rarity beat her, Rock-pony,” answered Rover on her behalf. Rock looked over at her double for confirmation who flexed her forehooves and nodded.

“Oh, she apologised for being so frightfully rude, well after she’d managed to get back on her paws anyway,” said Rarity.

Rock couldn’t help herself and pumped a hoof in the air in vicarious triumph. She was sure that some ponies would be jealous to find there was another version of themselves that were arguably more accomplished than them and would use it as an excuse to be bitter about all the breaks that they didn’t get. Rock figured that would be a pretty silly attitude to take though and realised she found it genuinely inspiring that she could have all of this and with such style and grace as well. She inwardly chuckled at that. Style and grace were two words that she’d never seen as things to aspire too, but maybe there was something to be said for them after all.

Rock decided she definitely owed Rarity one for this whole excursion. Now what can I do to make it up to her? She thought to herself as she mused things over.

“So,” Rock said casually. “I believe you mentioned you have a discount at the Ponyville spa?”

~~~

"Gilda!" Rainbow Dash yelled, far too stunned to process how exactly she was feeling by the sudden appearance of her oldest friend. The griffon had appeared to have had ago at cleaning herself up very recently, but she still looked thoroughly bedraggled with hastily applied purple markings around her eyes and a few spots of dried blood dotting her feathers that she'd missed.

"What's with the dweeby looking you anyway?" Gilda asked, looking Dashie up and down who glared back.

"Never mind that!" Dash insisted loudly. "I've not seen you in ages after that stupid mess you made of that party. Where the flying feather have you been?!"

"Err I've been about y'know," Gilda said slowly her eyes glancing about. "All sorts of cool places not that you'd care."

"I always cared," said Dash, getting her face right in Gilda's face. "You were the one that buzzed off after insulting my friends, remember?"

Gilda shook out her wings. "Things were said and you were super-lame too, dude. Not apologizing for them, but... ugh" She grimaced as if she'd just tasted something really bad. "Look, Dash is that Pinks or whatever that pony's name is about? I think I might have done something really bad..."

"What did you do?" growled Rainbow Dash, her wings were fully extended now as she planted her hooves in the turf hard.

"She popped out of nowhere, okay!" Gilda yell back, her feathers ruffled. "I'd been minding my own business in Ghastly Gorge for a few months now just living off the land, y'know? Pretty chilled out gaff basically."

"You were living rough?" asked Dash. "I thought you'd gone back to the Griffonwylds."

Gilda swallowed hard. "Did for a bit. Fell out with the folks again about them being so incredibly lame. Shacked up with a few of the clan, but got super bored of all that 'duty and honour' noise they're always screeching on about and figured I'd strike out for myself."

"So what happened?" Dash pressed.

"As I said she surprised me, alright?" Gilda said. "I just lost it as her stupid bouncy mane came into view. I know it wasn't totally all her fault my life is now such a pile of a droppings, just mostly, but I think I hurt her pretty bad so I thought I'd come say sorry. Y'know be the cooler griffon and all that."

Dash was quivering with barely repressed rage and looked to be on the verge of launching herself at the griffon to give her a taste of what a pegasus mare could do when fully provoked.

The sound of her own voice though brought her up short. "She's fine now," said Dashie quickly. "Just a few scratches."

"I... I thought I really..." Gilda stammered, as a weight of guilt seemed to drop off her shoulders.

"She's okay I promise!" Dashie said brightly. "I only just spoke to her half an hour back and she was completely fine before Dash here so kindly decided to show me this beautiful lake."

"Phew," Gilda breathed out. "Err, thanks other Dash," she said, though her voice and wide eyes let on just how crazy she was finding this conversation with her friend's unexplained double. "You're alright, even if could do with some more muscle on you."

"You should probably go though," said Dashie smoothly. "I'm sure you wouldn't want to give Pinkamena another scare again so soon right? Don't worry I'll let her know you're very sorry for what you did."

Gilda looked hesitant for a moment, but then nodded. "Yeah, alright, dude. Dash, I'll see you about sometime, okay?"

"Okay," answered Dash, which was pretty much all she trusted herself to say right now.

The two pegasi sat silently for a bit as they watched the griffon fly off back in the direction of the gorge.

"Thank you," said Dash eventually. "You handled that far better than I would have," she added with a certain amount of surprise creeping in to her tone.

"Not a problem," said Dashie, smiling back. "She really likes you, you know."

"Well yeah!" replied Dash cockily. "We were best buds back at the junior speedsters flight camp."

Dashie shook her head. "No, I mean really likes you!"

Dash stared back at her completely non-comprehensively.

"She..." Dashie trailed off and sighed, recognizing a brick wall when she saw one. "You really should see her for that chat though if you've really not seen her in so long I think."

"Yeah, you know what I think I'll do that," said Dash, suddenly smiling at the thought of properly catching up with her old friend. Even if she did have bouts of being incredibly uncool.

Dashie stared down at the grass, as she knew while she might have had a reprieve she wasn't going to be able to put it off much longer. "So, you said something about teaching me to fly," she said resignedly.