• Published 25th Jul 2012
  • 7,160 Views, 275 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 4

Rock sat by Sweetie Belle's bed, just watching the young filly sleep. She'd gotten into the habit after she'd come back to Ponyville and taken on the responsibility to look after the younger sister from their parents. The hard-bitten unicorn knew this wasn't really her sister. Still sitting like this was the closest she could get to feeling like she was back home in the real Equestria where there wasn't this frustrating other version of her. A mare completely obsessed with girly nonsense like fashion and dresses. Rock had decided it would be better to try to get on with this Rarity, but seeing herself so weak, so pathetic, so completely well, a complete and utter stuck up pinhead was grating on her like a constant headache she couldn't quite shift.

Still, Rock did have to admit, as she looked out the window that there was one thing to be said for this Equestria and that was the night sky. She couldn't put a hoof on it but there was a sense of inspiration and care that made the constellations Rock remembered from back home seem like a lesser imperfect copy now she could compare the two. It was like Nightmare Moon had attempted to duplicate a fine art painting and while she knew all the techniques. She was lacking the love for the work to make a true masterpiece.

She also had to admit to herself she really had enjoyed her time with this Sweetie. While some ponies would have told some heroic fantasy of striding through the Quarray Eels, dual wielding pickaxes with her magic and cutting down anything that dared got in her way. Rock had instead told it straight. She'd never believed in lying to her sister, or well anypony and Rock certainly was going to start now.

The first sign of danger had been the distinctive acidic stench that burned the ponies nostrils as they'd broken into the cavern. Recognising the very real peril they were in the forepony had ordered an immediate tunnel collapse, but before they'd had a chance to bring up the black powder charges, they could already see the silvery slick bodies glinting in the distance, reflected from the torchlight, and starting to move.

Feeling dirt sprinkling down on the back of her neck, Rock had just enough warning to catch the first attacker with her distinctive blue unicorn magic. Having never seen one before she'd taken a moment to examine the juvenile elver; a squirming sightless silver worm well over a foot long. Far too young yet to grow the distinctive burgundy red scales of the adults, but filled to the bursting point with far too many snapping needle like fangs for her liking. Rock had crushed the elver's skull beneath her hoof with a satisfying crunch as the forepony, Tinder Box, had spitted a second one that had dropped out of the ceiling upon his pickaxe. Flint hadn't been so lucky as a elver hole had appeared right by the massive dirty white stallion back leg. An elver had tunneled deep into the ponies flesh without warning before reappearing again seconds later out of his haunch, drenched in pony gore and blood. Rock hadn't described that though or the scream to Sweetie for fear of giving her nightmares. Though the horrible, wrenching howl that had been the last sound Flint had ever made as the elver had moved within his body would stick with her to the end of her life.

His death had been the signal for everything to go from bad to utterly screwed, as the ponies fought desperately just to stay alive as countless elvers swarmed into the opening from the cavern. All while even more popped out of holes opening in the ceiling, floor and the tunnel walls. Then as if things possibly couldn't get worse the tunnel had started to vibrate. The miners that had been able to run took their chance as the elvers paused their assault. It saved most of their lives as an immense adult Quarray Eel had burst through the rock wall before collapsing the tunnel behind him. Four ponies had died that day; two to the elvers, another swallowed whole by the Quarray while another was caught in the collapsing tunnel as they'd fled. That had not been a good day, then it had nowhere near been the worse, down in the dark beneath the world...

Sweetie had listened to the story, with her eyes glowing in excitement. She'd impressed Rock with both her enthusiasm and her intelligent questions as she'd asked about the eels life cycle and why anypony would want to be a miner if it was so dangerous. Rock had explained, that while she had been called to it she'd felt, mining could be highly lucrative for an earth pony. It was insanely dangerous, she admitted, especially sunblood mining which required the deepest exploratory digs ponies were capable of. But compared to a boring life of say, farming or cooking, there were always ponies out there looking to make a big score of bits, especially as it was one of the few jobs out there where you'd never have to compete with a unicorn or pegasus to get it. Pegasi hated being underground where their wings were useless, while the idea of pinheads doing a proper days work was laughable as far as Rock was concerned, though didn't use that word when she was explaining it. Rock herself, while not having been paid other than being kept fed while she was younger, had still made more than enough bits after she'd come of age to bargain for a proper wage from the overseer to help send her parents on a cross Equestria trip as a way of an apology for the whole pretending they were dead thing and still had enough to keep her and her sister comfortable, while doing odd jobs about the village to keep herself busy and out of trouble.

When she went to look for Rarity, she found the other her curled up in her room with a book. As soon as Rock entered, the book got flung aside with a guilty start. Rock figured it was probably some trashy romance with princes and stuff. She snorted, the entire concept was ridiculous.

"Is Sweetie asleep?" Rarity asked, while attempting to regain her usual composure.

"She is yeah, Rarity, I... I just want to say thanks for letting me do that. I know she ain't really my sister, but for a bit it felt like she was. I miss her so much." Rarity didn't call attention to it as she knew Rock would deny it, but she could see her doubles eyes were glistening.

"It's not a problem I assure you, darling. I can only imagine what it would have been like if I'd been in your hooves, trapped in a strange place where things are familiar but not as they should be. It must be very disconcerting."

"Oh you have no idea... I've done my best, Rarity, but it's been hard." Rock sighed, before collapsing on her other selves bed. She caught sight of the discarded novel out of the corner of her eye and was deeply surprised that she recognised the cover. Even more so that it was her own favourite bit of bedtime reading. Rock smirked inwardly, she wouldn't have thought her double would ever be into anything like that. "No special somemare then for you either then?" Rock asked, hoping she wasn't overstepping her bounds. "No offence, but I'd have thought you'd be after some prince to sweep you off your hooves."

Rarity blushed at the comment. She considered being angry, as it wasn't any of her doubles business, but really it wasn't as if she ever spoke to her friends about this. So she might as well now she had the chance to talk to somepony that was at least a bit like her. "Tried a prince, he was a boor, a ruffian and a disgrace to all of ponydom. After that I tried a few times with a variety of supposedly dashing stallions, but in the end I had to be honest with myself and yes I'm still looking, surreptitiously of course and spend the rest of the time getting pampered by a very nice pair of twins at the spa. You?"

Rock raised an eyebrow at that, maybe she'd have to give this spa thing a try after all, "Always known, but I tend to intimidate ponies, so pretty much given up." Rarity clucked in sympathy.

"It's hard being the only filly-fooler in the village isn't it?" Rarity said, with a self-pitying sigh.

Which provoked gales of laughter from her double. "You have met Lyra and Bonbon right? They're not what you call subtle."

"What? I always thought they were just good friends!"

"Rarity, you're an idiot, you know that?" Rarity laughed too at that, admitting that she may just well be. "Leaving that aside, I know for a fact that Berry Punch and Cloud Kicker bang anything with a pulse, but you've got friends. I mean the only relationship I've ever not been able to mess up is with my little sister, but you've really never thought about any of them?"

"Well, yes... I mean they're all very attractive mares in their own ways," Rarity said. She fished out a bottle of Sweet Apples Acres finest cider and poured her and Rock a glass each. Reasoning she'd need a stiff drink to get through this particular conversation. "Well Applejack's a very traditional sort. I'm not entirely sure she knows what a filly-fooler is and even if she did, she'd reckon it'd be 'ain't natural'. Fluttershy prefers the company of cute animals to cute stallions, ditto Twilight Sparkle and her books. Rainbow Dash could be a dracophile for as far as I know and it wouldn't matter in the slightest. She's so dead set on sacrificing everything else to become a Wonderbolt to have any time for romance. Pinkie Pie... I mean can you imagine? She still throws parties with pin the tail on the pony games. It would just be far too weird."

Rock took a drink, which resulted in a blissful smile as the scumble warmed her whole body from her hooves all the way up to the tip of her horn. "I'd think Applejack might surprise you actually, I know her brother's good friends with Caramel, so I'd doubt she'd be as close minded as you think and she was awfully protective back of you on the farm."

"Now that's a happy thought." Rarity was feeling impressively jolly, they were finally bonding at last, though maybe that was the cider, but she felt like she could now ask the question that she'd been absolutely dying to get off her flank. "Rock, can I ask what happened when you were a filly? I don't think I'd have had the first idea how to run away like you did."

"It seemed like fate at the time," Rock admitted. "There was an article in mum's copy of the Equestria Daily about sunblood being found way down south in the badlands, just the day after I was dragged out to that rock and I figured that would do nicely." Rarity nodded as she had heard of sunblood before. The name for an ore that was more beautiful than gold yet as strong as steel when forged. It was incredibly rare though. The only time Rarity had seen some herself was the crown of Princess Celestia.

Rock continued. "So I set off with a pack on my back to meet my destiny and get my cutie mark. I'm still amazed I got through to the great buffalo plains alive. That was well before the train over the Ghastly Gorge of course, so I'd made a small detour into the Everfree and somehow made it out the other side. After that it was easy, this was also before pony settlers had started heading that far south, so the Buffalo were really good to me in helping me pass from tribe to tribe and letting me have supplies to send me on my way with."

Then Rock had finally found the mine by some stroke of luck and not a Changeling hive or something even worse. The mine overseer—an utter bastard of a highlander pony with probably a fair amount of goat in him from his gruff attitude—had seen the idea of an actual unicorn willing to go to work as an opportunity and not an underage filly that absolutely should be sent back to civilisation as soon as possible and had overruled the objections of the other ponies there. Rock had been put to work. Helping out around the mine with her skilled use of telekinesis, which even as a filly, she'd had a fair flair for and certainly more than an earth pony could manage with a hoof or their mouth making her a real asset to the mine.

Her voice beginning to slur a little as she kept taking sips, Rock recounted how after she'd only been there for a couple of months disaster had struck. The main mineshaft had a rickety lift to take ponies down from the surface to the depths below. The mechanism holding it in place had been inexpertly put together and one day it just snapped. Rock had happened to be close enough to see it happen and for one brief fleeting moment had managed to seize the entire lift with her fledgling magic. It had only been long enough to look into the eyes of the terrified ponies trapped within the lift, before her magic had failed, and they plunged to their deaths. After that the idea of if there had just been another unicorn who could have helped her save them wouldn't leave the young Rock alone, as she'd become increasingly resentful of the fact she was the only pony with a horn at the mine. She'd rebuilt the mechanisms herself and when the lift was working was once more and the mine was back open; Rock had got her cutie mark. But Rock hadn't been happy, as she could only see it as a memento of how she'd failed, due to being the only one of her kind to do this kind of work.

Rock stopped talking as she realised the bottle was now empty, Rarity just smiled and brought out another bottle from her secret stash and the two unicorns ended up talking and drinking late into the night.

~~~

"So, is she finally asleep?"

"No thanks to you, but yes she's asleep."

Fluttershy shrugged, as she really was not bothered. "What's it like then to see yourself like that? Must be pretty embarrassing for somepony so powerful."

"Might be if I had an ego as big as yours," Twilight shot back.

"Do you want me to leave then? I should probably be finding somewhere I can stay the night. Maybe I should check in with my own double and see if she'll put me up—"

"No!" Twilight Sparkle insisted. "I... I mean, no. I want to keep an eye on you. I've got a double bed we can use anyway." She laughed nervously as she realized that, for the first time in her life, she'd just invited another pony to share a bed with her.

Luckily for Twilight, Fluttershy ignored the implications in favour of getting a few more jabs in. "Oh goodie, it'll be just like a sleepover. Maybe we can wake Sparks up, do each others hair and tell ghost stories. I'm sure you've got a book here that tells you all about it." Twilight carefully ignored that, especially as she did indeed have such a book.

Fluttershy pulled open her flight suit after having it on all day and started taking it off. It was then she noticed that Twilight was staring at her as she stripped off and more specifically her flank. "See anything you like?" she said, putting on a mock seductive tone, before she realised that the look on Twilight Sparkle's face was a mix between stunned fascination and horror.

"That... That can not be your cutie mark, it's impossible, you are impossible!" Twilight insisted, staring at the familiar pony skull and bony wing that had also decorated her flightsuit.

The Shadowbolt captain checked her own flank out to make sure nothing too weird was going on, but no there was her cutie mark same as always. "What's the problem?" she asked with some confusion.

"But you can't change a cutie mark with magic, believe me I've tried!" Twilight yelled, getting increasingly freaked out. Not even Princess Celestia could bestow or change a cutie mark, the Princess had told her so herself, so it would have to be impossible for Nightmare Moon too, it just had to be!

'Shush, you'll wake Sparks up and the last thing I need is not one, but two Twilight Sparkles going crazy. That really is my cutie mark. I'm not sure why you're getting so upset?"

"It's the Shadowbolt symbol! Nightmare Moon used it here too, Rainbow Dash told me before you turned up. So I can't see how you could have it as a cutie mark as she only came back last year."

"That's when I got my cutie mark," Fluttershy admitted with some hesitation.

"You were an adult blank flank?! But you're a year older than me," Twilight Sparkle asked, with wild staring eyes. She'd heard of adult ponies who had never received a cutie mark, but they were vanishingly rare and Twilight was certain she'd never seen one herself.

"You're not going to leave me alone until I tell you about it are you?" Seeing Twilight shake her head, Fluttershy lay down and got comfortable motioning the unicorn to do the same. "I might as well start at the beginning then..."

~~~

"I didn't have the best time in flight school." Fluttershy said, with a faraway look in her eyes. "I was a weak flyer and these three jocks took every opportunity to bully me. I never had any friends as all the other ponies at the camp were scared that if they stuck up for me they'd be picked on too. It did toughen me up though and by the time I left flight school I could hold my own as a flyer and was alright at weather management, but still unlike every other pony I'd somehow graduated without a cutie mark on my flank.

"I'd never found anything I particularly cared for or was interested in, so I ended up working in the weather factory in Cloudsdale. Unfortunately those same three jock stallions were there too. Ready and waiting to pick up where they left off. It was probably inevitable, but one day I just snapped and kicked their flanks all the way up and down the factory floor. Got let go over it, but heh, so did they." Fluttershy smiled, enjoying that particular memory.

"Well after that I had to move on, as it turned out one of their dads was the Lord of Cloudsdale and he wasn't best pleased with me. I ended up in Ponyville which is where I met Gilda."

"Gilda, as in griffon, calls people dweebs, a lot of a temper, that Gilda?" asked Twilight with some surprise.

"She is a griffon, but she's probably one of the most mellow creatures I've ever met. Which could have something to do with her 'life-partner' Derpy." Fluttershy made quotation mark gestures with her wings. "Well okay her real name was Ditsy Doo, but she's a total airhead with dumb, stupid eyes, so Derpy it was, least as far I'm concerned anyway. Gilda was the weather-team captain in town and for a none pony to have a position of any kind of responsibility in Equestria is about as rare as a pony to come of age without a cutie mark, so I think she saw me as some kind of kindred spirit. She was always trying to be my friend and inviting me back to her house for meals with her and Derpy and their kid Dinky and horse apples like that."

"Dinky?" asked Twilight, wondering how that had still happened, though she had to admit she only knew Ditsy and Dinky as two ponies she occasionally saw around Ponyville.

"They'd been inseparable during flight school, but Derpy had a foal young while they were separated when she was still struggling with the whole interspecies filly-fooler thing, Hugh Jelly was an utter freak of a pony though. You wouldn't believe the stuff he was into and she quickly went flying back with her tail tucked between her legs, but with Dinky as a foal in tow. Gilda forgave her though and they're now annoyingly, blissfully happy." Fluttershy said, with a grimace as if she'd smelt something unpleasant.

That really doesn't sound like the Gilda that Pinkie Pie had described and the griffon that she'd met very briefly at that party, Twilight thought. Then Gilda had grown up without Rainbow Dash too, guess it was Dash that had been the bad influence in that friendship after all, huh.

"Finally Gilda gave up being all friendly and just tried being my boss which didn't go much better. I resented her and the other weather ponies couldn't stand me, so I ended up doing all my weather assignments solo. Did end up being probably the best weather pony on the team, as I never needed any back up, but none of them cared and the feeling was mutual."

"Then came the night of the summer solstice..."

~~~

Nightmare Moon cackled as she looked over the terrified faces of the gathered town. They'd learn to love her soon enough without their precious sunlight.

"Um... I-I know you are, you're the mare-in-the-moon, Nightmare Moon." A purple unicorn wearing a pair of glasses was pointing a wavering, but accusing, hoof at her. She really didn't look like she'd be any trouble. In fact she looked like she was going to bolt any moment.

"Why yes, I am Nightmare Moon. Is that going to be a problem?" she asked with mocking concern.

"No... I mean y-yes... um—" Sparks trailed off, mumbling something that might well have been about the Elements of Harmony. Nightmare Moon was a little impressed, just a little, she'd thought they'd have been completely forgotten by now. Still the idea that this pathetic creature might be able to wield them against her was hilarious.

"The Elements of Harmony!" Nightmare Moon yelled dramatically, near deafening everypony in the room. "So, tell me, little unicorn do you in fact have any idea where the Elements are?"

Sparks was completely frozen in fear and all she could do was shake her head slightly to admit that she didn't.

Nightmare Moon cackled again, she did enjoy a good cackle. "Perhaps you should go find them then!" She punctuated her point with a blast of lightning for emphasis.

Sparks screamed and fled the hall. Nightmare Moon chuckled, it's not like the lightning had been near her! Anyway, even if she could find the Elements from their resting place in her old castle deep in the Everfree; somepony so weak wouldn't ever be able to actually wield them.

"Seize her! Only she knows where the Princess is!" the town's mayor yelled. This time Nightmare Moon didn't hold back and wracked the charging guards with lightning. Not enough to kill of course, dead ponies couldn't appreciate her beautiful nights, but she made sure it hurt enough that they'd think twice about doing it again.

Nightmare Moon had been just about to turn into smoke and leave when a yellow pegasus flew right at her yelling, "WAIT!" at the top of her lungs.

~~~

"Now you've got to understand, I'd never seen anything like her." Fluttershy said quietly. "I'd certainly never seen Princess Celestia before and really unless you live in Canterlot—which as a pegasus isn't going to happen unless you're a Wonderbolt team member—you're not going to, so she was the most awe-inspiring thing I'd ever seen. I could almost hear this audible mental click in my head as suddenly for the first time in my life something finally made sense."

~~~

"Fluttershy, no!" Gilda tried to tackle the pegasus down fearing for her life and received an angry double buck to her beak for her trouble.

Having shaken off the annoying griffon, Fluttershy prostrated herself before the Alicorn. "Nightmare Moon, I am Fluttershy Posey. I swear on my life that I will serve you... if you'll have me."

Nightmare Moon was stunned. Really in her heart she'd never thought ponies would actually love her, ever. Nopony ever had what with her annoying older sister being so perfect. So having a pony offering herself to her without restraint, somewhere deep in her heart that she'd thought had been long forgotten buried under hate, remorse and the blackest of magics, Princess Luna stirred. Somepony actually liked her!

With a very un-nightmarish 'squee!' she seized the yellow pegasus up in a full body hug. "Of course you may serve me and your service will be rewarded, as the first pony to acknowledge the return of the true royalty!" Fluttershy was struggling to breathe, but she'd still never been happier to finally be accepted by somepony. Only later would she discover that had been the long-awaited moment that her cutie mark had finally appeared on her flank.

~~~

"After that we returned to the palace and I was made captain of the Shadowbolts. I went into training along with some magical enhancements from Nightmare Moon herself, so I could actually do the job and have other ponies take me seriously."

"And then you went back for Sparks?" Twilight Sparkle asked angrily. She wasn't sure what to think. All it would have taken for this Fluttershy to be different was to have had somepony to stand up for her. To give her a chance to fall in love with the grounds with its so many wonders. But she hadn't and here she was; a monster so desperate for a purpose she'd thrown in her lot with Nightmare Moon.

"I'm not proud of that actually," Fluttershy admitted. "I was so eager back in those days and I used too much force compared to what was actually required. Especially on some dumb unicorn that had, for only a moment, the nerve to actually speak back to my mistress." She sighed ruefully. "Nightmare Moon was so angry with me when she found out about it. It was over the top and she told me so at length."

"What about Stalliongrad?"

"Stalliongrad was an example and it's not like anypony died! If they hadn't rioted I'd have never had to have to move in and restore order, would I?" Twilight really didn't think that was worth the destruction of an entire town and her expression of disgust did little to not show that.

"Look, Twilight," Fluttershy said, feeling herself getting frustrated, as she was feeling the need for the first time ever to justify herself. "You have to understand something about Nightmare Moon. All she really wants is for ponies to like her and to appreciate her nights like they used to appreciate her sisters days. Maintaining order or being an effective ruler; seriously if it wasn't for mine and Shining Armour's help she'd be completely lost."

Twilight Sparkle was stunned and she refused to believe it. There was just no way Shiny would ever work under Nightmare Moon. It was just completely unthinkable! "So Shining Armour is still the captain of the royal guard?" she asked casually and trying not to sound like she cared either way.

"He agreed to stay on to cut down on ponies getting hurt in the chaos caused by the transfer of power. Course now I think it's also because him and Nightmare Moon are bucking on the sly."

"MY BROTHER WOULD NEVER DO THAT!" Twilight Sparkle yelled, before putting a hoof in her mouth as she realised exactly what she'd just said.

Fluttershy laughed and her eyes dancing. This whole mess had been a major pain in the flank and the unfamiliar sunlight had been making her eyes ache all day, but suddenly with one word it had all been made worthwhile! "Shining Armour's your brother? Oh that is just too special!" She glanced over at Sparks who was turning in bed, still asleep but clearly disturbed in her rest. "So how do you think big brother Shiny would react if I paraded her about the palace on a leash and dressed in something skimpy?"

"You so much as lay a hoof on her and I will END YOU!" Twilight promised, her eyes literally aflame with rage.

"I assure you I'd be the perfect gentlemare!" Fluttershy laughed, this was going to be so much fun!

Twilight Sparkle had only once come close to murdering another pony as she was now and that had been in in the caves far below Canterlot. If Cadance hadn't repeated that childhood rhyme Twilight still wasn't exactly sure what she might have done. Her horn began to glow with seething purple energy just waiting for a chance to be unleashed. If she did this she could never go back to the pony she had been... But what else could she do? Sparks would certainly be safer here, but what about Rock? She'd never see her sister again and Twilight couldn't take that away from her. No matter how much she wanted to.

"So if Nightmare Moon and my brother are together are you really sure you want to upset him?" Twilight slowly reasoned it out, "Upset him and it might upset her too and you keep saying she's the most important pony that you'd do anything for, right?"

Fluttershy stopped rolling around the floor, giggling with glee. That annoyingly was a good point. "You're right, don't worry I'll be good." Well maybe not that good... Fluttershy mused to herself. She'd just have to possibly be a bit more diplomatic about the courting. If she played it carefully the pegasus was sure she could drive her rival completely up the wall and still not upset the delicate balance of power and far more importantly; not upset Nightmare Moon.

Completely unaware of the Fluttershy's internal dialogue Twilight breathed out in relief, letting the dangerous magics dissipate harmlessly. "Shall we get to bed then? It's been a long day."

"Sure." Fluttershy nodded. "Can't believe she slept through all that."

"I think the spell was far too much for her, we could have had a bunny stampede through here and she'd have probably not even noticed." Fluttershy raised an eyebrow at 'bunny stampede' but decided she was far to tired to ask.

Authors Note: The Gilda/Ditsy ship was inspired by the deeply funny if also impressively wrong Gilda vs. Knitting by PotatoJoe and as I forgot to mention it in a previous chapter Fluttershy's full name is from Sereg's excellent An Earth Pony's Guide to Magic.

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