• Published 13th Apr 2018
  • 356 Views, 1 Comments

A Town and a Memory - Pone-Dancer



In which a changeling hybrid pours his heart out about his abusive past.

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Enter the Lab

Flater stretched luxuriously under the steady noonday sun. The heat beat pleasantly down on his shell filling his whole body with fuzzy warmth. Since his yard was adjacent to the road he could also exchange friendly greetings with Ponytown's residents. All in all, a perfect way to kill time until his guests arrived.

Hoofbeats drummed the dusty path. As the pony neared Flater's abode, they slid to a screeching halt kicking up dirt and debris as they did so. Flater sneezed slightly.

"There you are man! Hiding in plain sight."

"How's it going Rainbow Dash. Is it time already?" Flater lifted his head in her general direction.

"Nah, I came over early." The Pegasus puffed up a little, then deflated some. "See I have a little tiny problem on my hooves..."

"Well for every problem there is a solution." Flater scrambled to a sitting position.

"Uh, I'm over here now." Rainbow Dash waited for the blind Changeling hybrid to semi-face her before divulging. "This morning I woke up, did some wing stretches, did some laps around my house, being totally awesome and such. By the way, I pulled off this really top-notch flip-"

"Ahem. Just a bit off topic." Flater coughed softly to hide his amusement.

"Oh right. Anyways, I went out to get my newspaper and there was this box. I figured it was a confetti bomb laid by Pinkie. But the return address wasn't familiar. So I opened it, and inside was this apple pie. With a heart cut in the crust. Ugh, it's creepy man I'll tell ya! The deliverer left behind a feather. It isn't Derpy's." Rainbow Dash held up the offending object.

"What color is it?" Flater inquired.

"Kinda off-white with, like, I dunno! Just tell me whose it is!" She shoved it under his nose.

Flater sniffed at it thoughtfully as he sorted the scent's possible owners through his brain. Finally, one met the feather's criteria. "That's Soarin's feather I believe."

"S...Soarin? As in, Wonderbolts Soarin?" Rainbow Dash dropped it quickly, paling.

Flater wiggled, excited for her. "Congratulations Rainbow, you've entered the first stage of Pegasi courtship! Oh, that was my favorite topic of study in college...now I get to finally hear about it in life."

Rainbow Dash blanked out. This was too much to process all at once.

"Hiya! Is Dashie playing statues? I wanna play too!" Pinkie Pie bounded over to her paralyzed friend, copying her frozen facial expression.

Close behind came the remaining four. Flater's legs had long ago fallen asleep so he remained sitting.

"Is she okay?" Twilight Sparkle glanced at Rainbow Dash in concern.

"Ah'll check." Applejack sighed, tapping the blue Pegasus on the shoulder.

Rainbow Dash snapped to life, eyes wide and wings flaring open. "Pegasi courtship!"

"Say what now?" Applejack lifted an eyebrow.

"Rainbow has a-" Flater was cut off by a hoof slapped across his mouth.

"What do you have Rainbow darling?" Rarity chimed in, genuinely curious.

"I have...a...neat trick I'm working on! For sure. It'll get me into the Academy for sure." Rainbow Dash replied fervently. Her words were laced with Say-one-word-about-it-and-I'll-beat-you-senseless. Flater puffed out his cheeks in a silent secrecy swear.

"Haha I win!" Pinkie Pie squealed bouncing around the group.

Fluttershy just cowered. Oh why couldn't he put his disguise back up?

"Whatever trick it is, I'm sure it'll be a hit Rainbow." Twilight smiled at her friend.

"Of course it will be," Rainbow Dash huffed, "It's me we're talking about here."

"Ah came over here to talk about him." Applejack plopped onto the ground.

"It's such a nice day, why don't we stay outside this time?" Twilight suggested.

"Excellent idea! I'll get some lemonade." Flater hobbled back into the depths of his flat. Twilight Sparkle beamed from the positive attention.

Applejack and Rarity rolled their eyes. Pinkie remained oblivious and Fluttershy successfully crept away. Rarity giggled, casting meaningful glances at the now blushing alicorn.

Flater returned with a pitcher and several glasses at that moment. "What? Did I miss a joke?" He asked, perplexed, as they suddenly went quiet.

"It was nothin' of major importance." Applejack broke the awkward static air.

Flater decided that it must've been an inside joke as he set the beverage in the center of the group so they could help themselves. "Now where did I leave off?"
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"Are we there yet?" A 3-year-old Flater complained as he followed a mare down Mane Street.

Brooke glanced warily around, breathing in relief when she discovered that no other ponies were about. For once she was grateful for Hoofendale's smallness. "Yes Flater, almost there."

"You said that last time." Flater pouted, trotting ahead to sit on some concrete steps. "I wanna be there now!"

"Wish granted." Brooke came to a stop as she neared the massive red bricked building. It was a little weathered, but not too shabby.

Flater glanced up at the sign above him. "Happy Hooves...what's an 'Or-Fan-Age?"

"Um...It's like a vacation house! Yea, you're going to take a vacation here." Brooke gave him a closed-lip smile.

"Is that why I had to bring all my stuff?" Flater shifted under his pair of packed saddlebags.

"Yes. I can't take care for you right now because I'm going on a little vacation on my own." Brooke flinched at her half truth. She couldn't care for him, that much was certain. The vacation bit was a load of hooey. She had been invited to move to Canterlot with Slate. After all, he needed a secretary for his new office. So here Flater had to stay, at Hoofendale's very own Happy Hooves Orphanage. It was all last-resort. Nopony had any interest in adopting a half Changeling, no matter how hard she searched. "Stay here while I get everything set up."

The hybrid thankfully flopped onto the bottom step. This whole trip had been taxing for his tiny frame.
.......................................................................................................................................................................

"Flater, aren't you blind?" Rarity skeptically asked. His story now seemed very doubtful of accuracy.

"I wasn't born blind much to contrary belief." He took a sip of lemonade. "That didn't happen until much later."
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Brooke returned wielding papers. "Okay Flater, I guess this is goodbye for now." Her heart sank at leaving such a high-spirited foal here. But the staff were kind (to her at least) and the inside seemed pretty clean.

"How long 'til you come back?" Flater whimpered, heaving himself back onto his legs.

"I don't know." Forever, I'm sorry. Brooke pushed her clashing emotions aside, stepping forward and placing her muzzle between his ears. "Just follow their directions and, above all, remember what I've taught you." She breathed, eyes closed. Too soon she lifted her head, descending the stairs to begin her journey home.

Flater waved, straining to watch her receding form disappear down a hill. She didn't look back.
At that moment Flater realized that he was on his own. It was a lonely feeling for someone so young. He slumped a little.

A middle aged mare stuck her head out into the open air. "Flater? Are you here?" She looked down and her jaw dropped.

"Hi. What are we doing over vacation?" Flater sat in front of her unaware of what was to come.

"W...What...I wasn't aware...of what...you..." The mare slowly backed away, ears pinned. She had no clue how to handle this shelled-fanged-holey-well spoken foal.

"Can I go in?" Flater tilted his head hopefully. His fly-like eyes reflected the sun.

"Absolutely not whatever you are!" The mare slammed the door closed. "Changelings! They're back! Call the squad!" Her shrill voice rang audible even through the thick oak.

Flater, more confused than shocked, sank to his belly. Brooke had said that he was different, so what did she say about handling it? Oh yea, use your best manners. A little late for that...

"Hey there little one." A gentle voice lilted up to him.

Flater turned to see a professionally dressed stallion in a crisp white coat smiling cordially at him. "I won't hurt you, come over here please."

Flater supposed that this pony was affiliated with the rude mare, so he took a tentative step.

The stallion nodded, eyes still bearing into his. "You can leave your saddlebags there. We can send for them later."

Flater needed no further coaxing; He was tired and hungry. So the bags were tossed to the ground in less than a minute before the hybrid took the steps two at a time.

As he neared the stallion on the street, a flash of silver swiped out from his peripheral vision. Flater attempted to leap away from its path, sadly a few seconds too slow.

Another larger stallion stepped from around a parked carriage with a long pole. At the end of it there was a loop of steel wire, much like a dog-catcher's tool. Flater found this loop wrapped around his throat. It was tight but not constricting. Yet.

"Got him boss. What do we do now?" The large one inquired to his white-coat partner.

"We take him to the institution of course." The other replied. "Or lab as you cretins call it."

"Come on." The large one demanded, yanking on the pole. Flater almost fell over from the force of it. His captor seemed surprised that he didn't fight back as he willingly plodded forward. Flater had nowhere to run to anyway. Soon enough the loop was undone and he was, quite literally, thrown into the rear of a barred-window carriage. The merciless cold steel froze his hooves and was reflected in the white-coat stallion's expression as he came over to close the heavy doors.

"Disgusting things Changelings are." He sneered. "Better off without them."

As the deadbolt latched into place, Flater collapsed onto the hard chilly floor. He rolled on his side as the carriage lurched to life, creaking its way down Mane Street. The hybrid curled into a ball eyes filling with hurt, confused tears. What was going on? One minute he was about to go on vacation and the next he was thrown into a cart for bad guys. What did he do? Was he a bad guy? Flater wanted to curl up in his fuzzy blue blanket. He wished to splash about in a warm bubble bath. But above all, he yearned for his caregiver's gentle touch. Her words of comfort. Her donkey brayish laugh. Flater's emptiness, fueled by hunger, reached its capacity. He couldn't help it; He began to chirp. Flater chirped away his loneliness, chirped away his childhood as he knew it, chirped away his young innocence.

The driver rapped on the wall in front of him. "Hey you little scum cut that out!"

This caused Flater to cry out even louder.

"Oh Celestia, this'll be a long ride..." The driver grumbled.
.............................................................................................................................................................

Flater paused his story weaving. "Sorry that I cannot describe who they were. I honestly just don't remember."

"Please tell me that this crap town doesn't exist anymore! Doing that to a kid..." Rainbow Dash growled, eyes narrowed. She'd love to give that place a good trashing.

"Probably, though I'm sure they're less volatile than they used to be." Flater shrugged. He had sworn himself to never go back.

"I'll go make more lemonade. It didn't needed way more sugar!" Pinkie Pie grabbed the pitcher.

"Ugh great. Just what ah need. A sugar-induced coma." Applejack shook her head.

Rarity gagged at the prospect. "I agree. We'll run to the market to buy you more later. Your house will surely be lacking it."

"I can go myself, it's no problem really." Flater lifted his back shell to fan out his useless, transparent, wasp-like wings in the sun. He hummed contentedly, glad to be in the light and worrying over something as petty as sugar.

Twilight Sparkle stared at them in awe. He had never shown his wings before. Flater must be really comfortable here in the midst of them all. She made a goal to keep him feeling that way. Not afraid to be himself in the world he lived in.

Upon Pinkie's return Flater carried on.
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Empty. That was the only way to describe his new accommodation at the lab. It appeared to be much like a prison cell, but pure neon white with a massive spotless window for others to look in. This was where Flater got shoved to be monitored for his entire stay.

The discombobulated hybrid sat in the middle of the space, trembling, eyes wide. Harsh chemical scents seared his nostrils. He had a headache from the white glare. There were no sounds at all, not even of life. These white-coat ponies made no noise while passing him by. This freaked him out even more. He needed a safe place. Flater immediately crossed off all corners. They were too visible. He turned to a little cot propped against the nearby wall. Sobbing in relief, Flater rushed over to it. He squeezed his slender frame underneath into the sweet, soothing darkness.

He must've fallen asleep, because before he knew it a shrieking alarm pierced his ears. Flater surged to life banging his head off the bottom of the cot. Grimacing, he pulled himself out from under his shelter right into reality. A plate of food sat nearby. It seemed to a inconspicuous combo of eggs and bacon. Taking a curious sniff, he quickly tucked them away with greedy mouthfuls.

In the window, white-coated ponies scribbled notes. "The specimen has taken the bait." One reported into a walkie-talkie.

"Wonderful. Wait five minutes before proceeding." Crackled a reply.

"Affirmative."

Flater, of course, could not hear the scientists through the thick glass. Settling back he felt content for the moment with a full stomach. Warm food made everything better. In fact, his whole body was pleasantly warm. The warmth spread steadily as he grew drowsy. "Gosh that was good. A small nap now can't hurt..." He dopily murmured to himself before flopping onto his back in an induced coma.

"Target acquired and sedated."
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Flater stopped there, jaws clenched. "I can't bear to carry on with it being such a lovely day. Maybe tomorrow."

"There's rain scheduled then." Rainbow Dash pondered.

"Ugh! I refuse to travel through such unfavorable conditions!" Rarity huffed. "You'll have to continue without me."

Applejack shot the white unicorn an annoyed glance. "Ah'll be here for ya Flater."

"The rain is the perfect time to sit together and storytell." Twilight stated. She wouldn't miss it for the world.

"Pinkie Pie clapped her hooves. "Goodie! Let's all make s'mores and have a day out of it."

Flater grinned. "I'd like that. Just let me make the refreshment this time, okay? I think I'm going to feel this buzz for hours on end."

Author's Note:

His pain-free era has ended my dear readers. The next chapter will feature the inhumane testing Flater will have to endure.
Very soon you will learn the source of his impairment and jagged scar:fluttershyouch:

Tata for now!