• Published 31st Jul 2012
  • 7,787 Views, 74 Comments

A Mote of Dust - That One Guy

In which a nameless changeling, parading as a faceless guard, discovers what it means to be a pony.

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Mangled Ramblings (Epilogue)

It had been exactly one year since Dawn Guard had been stationed to Trotondo, the Equestrian colony placed far in the frozen north. Coincidentally, it had been two months and six days since she had started dating Dust Mote, the only other royal guard stationed in the small town.

Well, perhaps ‘stationed’ is too strong a word. ‘Snuck in under the guise of one who knew what he was doing’ would be more a more precise term to describe the colt.

As it stands, one year (or even ten months, in the stallion’s case) was a long time to have to remember every single thing in the guard’s code, and Dawn’s little booklet detailing such things had long since been lost to some stray bookshelf, probably never to be pulled out again.

Essentially, it was safe enough to assume that neither of the two pegasi would remember that the annual security check always took place twelve months from the assignment of the first guard.

This guard in question was tearing through the marketplace, new helmet and recovered golden armor securely fixed in place, in hot pursuit of a smug-looking diamond dog adorned with the tattered rags and old-fashioned hat that one would expect any self-respecting canine evildoer to be wearing.

“Stop, thief!” She called again, tucking her wings to her side and rolling under a low-hanging stall, doing her best to keep up with the dog’s quick bounds on the ground. It was fortunate, perhaps, that the ground of the north was interlaced with enough ice to prevent the easy escape via digging that the dogs were capable of doing back in central Equestria.

However, as Dawn had quickly discovered, this was hardly a handicap when it came to taking down a diamond dog. While the pegasus may have been faster on land and much faster in the air, the dog had a stockier frame and a well-rounded physique; sure, if it had been a large field or plain she would’ve been able to catch him without much effort, but here, in a crowded marketplace full to bursting with ponies, obstacles and easy ways to lose a trail, the dog’s ability to turn on a dime and duck or leap without losing speed was making short work of her attempt at pursuit.

‘Alright, new plan,’ She thought, extending her wings and blasting off into the sky. ‘Don’t let him press his advantage.’

From the air, she may have been unable to see the dog directly, but a steady trail of commotion and startled shrieks gave away his position, all of which pointed directly to a large alleyway void of civilians. With a mighty clap of air-on-feather, she hurtled herself downward, extending a hoof forward and hoping that the thief didn’t catch on quickly enough to change direction.

As evidenced by the dull thud of metal horseshoe on skull, he didn’t.

Dawn flipped backwards over the dazed dog’s head, scanning the nearby ground for the bag of stolen gems – but by the time she saw it, heaped gracelessly several feet behind the perpetrator, the thick-headed canine had shaken off the brutal blow and swung a paw at her, claws sharp and at the ready. Leaping to the side to evade the swipe, Dawn figured her armor could take three hits from her attacker, given the strength built up in the dog’s forelimbs from a subterranean lifestyle.

“Last chance to surrender, thief.” She said stoically, attempting to sway the battle in her favor with a strong demeanor and references to power. “The rest of my squadron will be here shortly, and I doubt you can take on ten of Equestria’s finest at once.”

The dog laughed, pointing a twisted digit at the mare. “You all talk! Pony alone, that why I rob town!” He exclaimed, making himself look as tall as possible; an attempt to frighten off the pony, doubtlessly. “Easy pickings!”

The next second, he was knocked head over tail and into a wall as Dawn darted under his outstretched arm and landed a full-force buck to his torso. He gasped for air briefly, then fell to his rear, clutching his midsection.

‘Suits him right for letting his guard down.’ Thought Dawn smugly, trotting over to the bag and checking that the contents were still present. ‘At least now I know that diamond dogs are-‘

Dawn didn’t get to finish the thought as a very solid fist smashed into her skull, sending her spinning. Another firm hit, and she was on the ground, staring up at the dog, who was grinning manically, bag in tow.

“Haha! Pony let guard down, pony get beaten!” He cackled, looming over her evily. “Pony should know diamond dogs tougher than wall and kick to belly!”

Dawn froze, staring upwards.

“Now I get away with all these gems and nothing pony can do to stop me!” He continued, prodding at the bag. “… That your cue to hit diamond dog as hard as you can.”

The mare, still crouched down, shook her head back and forth quickly, eyes darting to and from the dog and something behind him.

“Dawn, I’m letting my guard down. Again. That’s the whole point of this.” Stated the dog, setting the bag down and putting his paws on his sides. “I’m too tough to take down like most other baddies, so you have to keep it up. Dogs aren’t invincible, just hard to hurt.”

He scratched his head to Dawn’s panicky gaze, and bent to his knees, extending a paw.

“Come on, I didn’t even hit you that hard. I know from experience that you can take hits just as well as you can gooomph!”

The diamond dog was cut off mid-sentence as something grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and lifted him a good foot above the ground. He gave a little confused shout, flailed his limbs about, and turned to see the entity that Dawn had tried, fruitlessly, to warn him about.

The entity in question was an abnormally large pony, coat a very light pink, with a cutie mark that depicted, unmistakably, the sun. Her mane and tail seemed to flow in a nonexistent wind, the colors of the rainbow shimmering through them. All of these features seemed a bit pale compared to the realization that she had both a horn and wings.

Plus, the alicorn was frowning. That was most definitely not a good thing.

“You’re Princess Celestia, aren’t you?” The diamond dog said, feeling an onslaught of chill rush through his veins.

The alicorn nodded.

“… Um, this isn’t what it looks like?” He sputtered, trying to think up something, anything, that would stop the deity of the sun from looking at him like that. “Dawn? Help? Please?”

As if awakening from a stupor, Dawn shook her head and leaped to her hooves, mind racing.

“Uh, you see, we were only practicing, Dust thought that we should step up our defenses and since diamond dogs are-“

Princess Celestia locked her steely gaze with Dawn’s considerably less-steely one. “Are you saying that this robbery was staged, and that this diamond dog,” She bobbed the dog up and down once for emphasis, “is guilty of no crime?”

They both nodded furiously. Both let out deep breaths when the diamond dog was set gently on the ground, and the dog and pegasus wasted no time in embracing. Celestia raised an eyebrow, but gave no additional comment.

“Erh, if you don’t mind me asking, why are you here, Princess?” Asked Dawn, letting go of the diamond dog and turning to face Celestia. “Is something happening down south that we need to know of?”

“Not that I am aware of.” Replied the princess, turning to the marketplace and gesturing for the duo to follow. “I just came to ensure that things are running up smoothly. I trust that I’m not late for the annual check?”

Dawn and the diamond dog shared a quick, relieved glance.

“Oh, the annual check-in!” Said Dawn, loosening up by a fair amount. “Apologies, princess, Dust and I must have forgotten about it.”

Celestia opened her mouth to speak, but was quickly cut off by the diamond dog, who was carrying the ‘sack of gems’ from their simulation. “Not that we aren’t ready for verification! Everything is in order around town, and we’d be more than pleased to show you around. Your highness.”

The three turned a corner, returning to the bustling marketplace. Immediately, dozens of ponies stopped whatever they were doing and dropped their heads low, bowing for the princess.

“Wow.” Said the diamond dog quietly, amazed at how much respect everypony held for the princess. This didn’t go unnoticed by the alicorn.

“Hello everypony,” Said the princess, motioning for the ponies to rise, “No need for formalities, these two individuals were just going to show me around the colony. Continue as you were.”

The canine let out another ‘wow’ as everypony did just that. It was so different from earlier encounters with royalty – and in a much better way, too. Yet Celestia kept walking forward, now following the lead of Dawn, as though nothing had happened. It was just amazing how much love the ponies held for their princess!

Several seconds later, the dog finally caught up to the princess and guard, giving both a smile and the second a poke on the shoulder.

“Hey Dawn, I’m going to go return our ‘gems,’” He said, shrugging the bag slung over his shoulder. “Where will you be taking the princess first?”

“Town hall.” She replied simply, returning his smile. “Then the supermarket, then gym. Check at those when you finish, wouldn’t want to hold up the princess!”

The princess let out a little laugh. “Believe me, I’m in no hurry. Before you go though, what are you named?”

The diamond dog and Dawn locked eyes for a split second as Celestia prompted for a name. The mare shrugged, and the diamond dog rolled his eyes.

“Dust Mote. Your majesty.”

“What a unique name, for a diamond dog. I’m glad they’ve decided to liven up the variety of the populace with the next generation.” She intoned, smiling. “Ah well, good luck in your little adventure, Dust Mote. We’ll see you shortly.”

And then, they were off.

Dust blinked. She, the leader of the ponies, had complimented his name and wished him good luck in returning a bag of potatoes.

‘No wonder nopony speaks ill of her!’ He thought, making his way over to Papa Tater’s stall. ‘If all the queens were even half as nice as Celestia… Ha, I wish.’

“An interesting coltfriend you have there, Dawn.” Said the almighty ruler of Equestria, attempting to strike a conversation with the mare. “May I ask how the two of you came to be a couple?”

Her victim’s face turned a nice shade of red at this. ‘You still got it, Tia.’

After a moment to compose herself, Dawn nodded lightly. “Well, Dust arrived about two months after I was stationed here. After a bit, everypony started dropping hints that we’d go well together, and a few weeks ago, I guess we just took their advice.”

She smiled, a faraway smile that Celestia recognized. She’d seen it many times over the ages, and it had even graced her own visage a few times.

“… And, in the end, they were right. He’s a great guy, in his own way.”

Celestia wanted to believe that story. It would’ve been perfect, the pony and the diamond dog, a story for all ages. However, one glaring point stuck out, one that the princess simply couldn’t ignore.

“And the ponies of Trotondo…” Implied the princess, just now noticing that Dawn seemed to be fidgeting a bit, as though she had remembered an important detail a little bit too late. “Not to be offensive to you or Dust, the townsponies openly encouraged a romance between a pony and diamond dog?”

Celestia expected a quick, snapping anger. A stubborn huff and an instinctive death glare. Pointing out how different one’s coltfriend was of a race generally disliked, or even hated, by most ponies was a surefire way to evoke a reaction from a mare.

Instead, Dawn gave a nervous little laugh, attempted to flip her mane (which failed, given that her helmet held it in place above her head), and pointed forward, changing the subject as subtly as a train wreck in motion.

“Eheh, look, town hall already! Wow, time sure flies fast! I’ll show you around inside, Princess…”


“Thanks, Tater!” Exclaimed the diamond dog, turning and setting a brisk pace for himself in the direction of town hall.

“Anytime, Dusty!” Replied the older unicorn, waving a farewell. “And say hi to Dawn for me!”

With a quick nod and smile, Dust dropped to all fours and prepared for a very doggish sprint to town hall. As he surged forward, ducking, swinging and spinning through and around the marketplace, the wild joy of being one with his glamour pulsed through his body. Seeing a group of young ponies, he gave a wicked smile and braced himself to jump over them, unable to restrain from showing off a bit.

But when he came close enough for his powerful eyes to scan the little group of colts in detail, the dog planted all four paws into the ground and came to a giant, dusty, screeching halt right next to the used pocketwatch vendor where the colts were gathered. The group in question cheered and applauded the diamond dog that had nearly run them over.

“Flare?” Asked Dust, pointing to one of the little ponies lumped near the center of the mob. “Flare Dare, is that what I think it is?”

The colt in question, a maroon-hued earth pony with a flaming red mane, leaped to his hooves. The little crowd gazed in wonder as the five-year-old pony surged to the diamond dog and gave him a great big hug.

“Dust! It worked! I knew it would work!” He cried out, excitement pouring from the little tyke in waves. “You said that tight roping over Miss Pastry’s clothesline wouldn’t get me my cutie mark, but it did! It did!”

The diamond dog rolled his eyes and pulled the hyper little colt off his chest and examined his flank. Indeed, where earlier that week there had been nothing but a maroon patch of fur now sat proudly an image of a flaming pogo stick. It was an interesting cutie mark, for sure, but Dust had seen odder ones in his time in Trotondo.

He looked up to the sun to guesstimate the time. He still had a bit.

And so, the diamond dog hunched down and met Flare’s adorable little stare with his own. “You remember what I said I’d do when you got your cutie mark?”

Flare’s head nodded so eagerly that Dust thought it might’ve fallen off. “A changeling ride?!”

Dust nodded. “A changeling ride.”

It took a few minutes for Flare’s little group of admirers to stop glomping him, and a few more for him to run and grab his miniature set of goggles and aviator’s cap. Nodding once to his friends in a way that must’ve looked super cool to the colts (and the filly gazing amorously at him from a bush), Flare stated proudly that he was ready.

Cracking a grin, the diamond dog gave a wink to the filly, pulled his paws in front of him, and gave them a firm crack. He dropped to all fours in front of the eager group of colts, closed his eyes, and spontaneously burst into bright green fire. Everycolt responded with a wave of cheering and awestruck glances towards Flare.

When the flames had died down, where the diamond dog had once stood was a strange, insect-like creature that was slightly less than average sized compared to most ponies (which meant that it still towered over the colts). Instead of fur, its body was coated in thick black plating, with the only breaks being the odd holes of varying sizes in its legs and two solid, blue eyes that seemed to have points of brightness to indicate where the creature was looking. In lieu of a mane and tail, the changeling had a substance that seemed partway between aquatic membrane and thin, lizard-like scale – while this substance may have been bunched up and wrinkled at his rear to form a short tail that looked merely like a pony’s, a single, thicker layer of it stretched up his neck and onto his head for a thin, Zebracan-style mane.

Plus the hole-filled, instectoid wings and seamless curved horn. But really, who would miss traits as vital as those.

“So, I heard one of you got their cutie mark today!” Said the changeling in his melodious, echoing voice loudly and somewhat redundantly – he may have already known, but it was so much fun to hype up the children as he did. “And that a certain somepony wanted to fly around on a changeling. Who, if I would be so bold to ask, would this colt be?”

Flare had long since lost all traces of childlike dignity, now hopping around with an arm extended high into the sky. “Me! Me! Dust, I got my cutie mark! Me, Flare!”

Dust smiled, feeling his fangs brush on his lower lip. He never really liked the fangs, they couldn’t even pierce cardboard and were such high maintenance. Even if they did help channel emotions and make him look awesome, he’d have gladly traded the two pieces of fragile bone for a multipurpose horn. But, at that moment, his mental ramblings were irrelevant.

What was relevant was making sure Flare was strapped in tightly to the little leather harness that had appeared with a flash of green when the colt had been lifted to his back. When Dust was confident that his passenger was safely secured, he imagined himself a pair of matching goggles (that appeared, tightened perfectly, with a rivulet of green fire) and struck a pose, wings extended.

“You ready for the flight of your life, Flare Dare?” He asked in that echoing, layered voice. He felt furious nodding come from the little pony holding tight to his neck. “Then let’s do this!”

Dust Mote flung himself into the air with a bout of rapid flapping, did a front flip right in front of the little group of colts as a preview of what was to come, and blasted high into the air, doing his best to make Flare’s day as special as possible.

After all, that was what a good guard did. Give the ponies they watched over a sense of safety, freedom, and joy. Some ponies got these feelings by watching a gold-plated stallion walk through the marketplace, ready at all times to leap into action. Others did by talking to these stoic guardians, knowing that they, too, were ponies who did their best to help others.

And then there were ponies like Flare Dare, who felt safe, happy, and accepted by feeling the air rush by their face, held aloft on the wings of their heroes.

Dust’s airborne grin only grew larger as his passenger let out whoops of excitement and shouts of joy. He liked that; Dust Mote the changeling: hero to the children of Trotondo.

“And here is the log, where we sign in for daily duties.” Finished Dawn, proudly holding up the ream of paper for Celestia to inspect. “And I’m pleased to report that we have one of the lowest absence rates in the nation!”

Again, Celestia found herself smiling. Dawn seemed so eager and proud when it came to accomplishments, as shown by the back wall of the town hall; for more than half of the medals pinned there, she had given a brief recounting on how they (or, in several of the earlier cases, just her) had helped Trotondo in some way or form. During this time, the princess had smiled and nodded at each explanation. Sure, she had heard each plaque a thousand times, but with every new pony that read them aloud came a new vigor, a refresher on how great the ponies of the time and age could really be.

Yet during this time, the same sentence kept coming up again and again. ‘… to Dawn Guard and Dust Mote, royal guards under Princess Celestia.’ This suspicion was only reinforced when the princess saw the two lines of text that extended, almost solid, through every sheet of paper through the stack – the stack of paper reserved solely for members of the royal guard.

Halfway through Dawn’s rather touching recounting of how she and Dust had been vacant for three days to return an injured gryphonlet to its parents, Celestia cleared her throat in a way that suggested much experience in the act.

“Dawn Guard, it has come to my attention that, through both your verbal recounts and these solid pieces of evidence, Dust Mote seems to be referred to as a royal guard.” She said, not letting the slightest bit of emotion seep through her calm demeanor. “However, I was under the impression that Dust is a diamond dog, and physically incapable of, as this commendation states…”

Celestia peered towards the third plaque to the left, eyeing the wording. “… Posing, in full royal guard attire, for the sculptor Clay LeBleu with his companion Dawn Guard, also in full attire, for four six-hour sessions.”

The princess turned back to Dawn, who seemed to have frozen in place. Again.

“Additionally, these attendance records that you’ve shown me clearly label Dawn Guard and Dust Mote as the sole two guards stationed in Trotondo. However, by my memory, only one guard was assigned to this colony – one Dawn Guard.”

The alicorn gazed intently at the pegasus, who remained almost as active as a block of ice. Unmoving in her own way, Celestia regarded Dawn with amusement. She hadn’t been expecting even half this reaction – without a doubt in her mind, the princess knew that something was off about this ‘Dust Mote’, but the question was, what?

The answer, as it stands, came considerably sooner than the monarch had expected.

The door burst open, and in flew a creature that a great many deemed to be a parasitic monster – a creature encased in black chitin, a set of gossamer wings, a very unpony-like curved horn, and hole-filled extremities. The solid blue eyes of the creature seemed to be filled with a blazing azure fire, and on its back the princess was thoroughly surprised to see a little flame-maned colt wearing a set of aviator goggles.

“Dawn!” Shouted the changeling, staring intently at the still-frozen mare with a passion that honestly surprised the goddess. “I felt fear, and panic! Are you alright!? What happened? Why… did…”

The changeling was now staring at Celestia. His eyes were bugged out as large as they could go and, after a brief glance down at a hoof to verify that there were indeed holes in it, he swallowed loudly.

“I’ll… just be outside…” He whispered, voice inexplicably hoarse in the presence of the princess. “Don’t mind u-urk!”

Celestia stopped the changeling with an effortless wall of magic as he tried to sneak back out of the door. She slowly dragged the black critter towards her with a telekinetic wave. Then, as completely emotionless as always, she spoke.

“Release the colt, changeling.”

Without delay, the harness flickered and burned out of existence, sending the maroon colt flailing head-over-hooves to the ground. A spare twinkle of light pink caught him, setting him gently to the ground, where he pulled up his cap and gazed up at Celestia.

“Care to explain why you barged into the town hall of a moderately-populated Equestrian settlement, focused on a royal pegasus guard indistinguishable from all others (on account of her armor enchantment) over the formidable being that is myself, goddess of the sun and co-ruler of all Equestrian ponies, all the while having a child under my protection strapped to your back?” She asked in the same tone as one would ask a baker if their inventory contained muffins.

The changeling almost spoke, but seemed to think better of it and merely made himself as small as he could, cowering before her with eyes obscured as best as they could be with his hole-filled hooves. The alicorn sighed, took a step back, lifted her head high into the air and channeled a focused sphere of radiant white magic to flare from her massive horn. With this power, the princess-

“Excuse me, Miss Princess Celestia?” Came a small, piping voice, accompanied by a tugging on one of the royal horseshoes. “Before you do whatever it is you’re going to do, can I ask something, please?”

The princess, ever a sucker for the whims of the young, allowed the glow to dissipate and gazed down at the little colt with kindness and patience that had been all but nonexistent several seconds prior. “Yes?”

Hooves brushing over one another, the little pony looked waaay up to the towering figure of Celestia and asked, in a voice piping with sorrow, if she was going to hurt his friend, Dust.

The princess, royal guardian of the sun and Equestria, banisher of Nightmare Moon, etc. etc., looked down at the colt in genuine confusion. “No, of course not! Why would I hurt your friend?”

The large set of copper eyes blinked once. “Because when he and Miss Dawn were gonna make out the second time, after Miss Pie came over and brought us all into Miss Dawn’s kitchen with their romantic candle-lit dinner, and when they opened the door they were about to kiss but we all shouted ‘surprise’ and they were surprised and then Miss Pie went over and introduced herself and said how nice a couple they made but then we all realized that Miss Pie was talking about Miss Dawn and Dust but on the doorstep we saw that it was actually Miss Dawn and a changeling - we all knew because Mister Post brought us all a newspaper that told us about it – and they looked around for a few seconds and then they went and kissed in front of everypony and Miss Pie clapped and everypony from town looked confused and kind of sat around until they stopped kissing which took almost five whole minutes and then Miss Dawn explained that the changeling was actually Dust and that it was okay and we shouldn’t report him to you, Miss Princess Celestia, because he was actually nice, not like what the paper said and everypony agreed that having Dust exiled and banished to a prison in the jungle on the moon like Miss Princess Luna but forever because he was just a changeling and not your sister, and then in the morning after Miss Dawn had kicked us all out because she said she wanted a private romantic dinner with Dust they made an announcement with Mister Mayor Stallion that formally introduced Dust to town as the second royal guard and that it had been him the whole time and then they said ‘the issue was resolved’ but it wasn’t because not everypony was entirely convinced that Dust was actually a changeling and they kept thinking up elaborate ways to prove that he was actually evil but after Dust used his changeling powers to protect us from an oncoming army of actually evil changelings and he took a cherry pie aimed at Miss Dawn who was protecting Mister Mayor Stallion and he almost died but he got better after about two weeks and by that time everypony finally realized that he was really a good changeling and our parents let us include him in our games in public instead of in private like we had to before they were entirely convinced, but as it stands he’s still a changeling and I know that Miss Princess Cadence and Mister Shining who are your respective niece and nephew-in-law had a really bad experience with a changeling queen and her hive that Dust explained went insane over twisted ideals and a mental illness that had been going around at the time and I thought that you might hurt or exile or do horrible things that nopony says we should know about because we’re too young but we already learned about from comic books anyway and we all really love Dust and I really hope you don’t hurt him or anypony else just because of how they look like, Miss Princess Celestia.”

It took an amazing amount of effort to not break her composure when faced with the colt’s speech. Never once in her considerably long life had the princess ever heard such a long speech voiced entirely without the aid of breathing, and this marvel was only magnified by the fact that, even after spitting all that out, the colt continued to respirate normally, chest rising and falling as slowly as ever.

Fortunately for the colt’s speech itself, Pinkie Pie had been born in this generation and had reminded the princess of the finer arts of comprehending large, hard-to-follow rambles. Granted, the princess found it more informative regarding the backstory of the faux guard than convincing regarding what she was to do, but she was quite sure that if that speech had a spirit, it could rest happy knowing that it served a pivotal purpose: finish convincing the princess that the changeling was, in fact, harmless. Two last questions, though, and then she would finish the spell she had since begun.

“What is your name, brave colt?” She asked, her lack of reprimanding reassuring him. “And, if you don’t mind telling me, why was Dust carrying you around on his back?”

“I’m Flare Dare, leader of the Super Adventurer’s club!” He exclaimed with pride, puffing out his adorable little chest. “And Dust was carrying around because he promised me he’d give me a changeling ride if I got my cutie mark before I was too big for one!”

The royal eyebrow (left edition) raised. “A… changeling ride?”

Flare nodded a few times, goggles flapping about wildly. “It’s where Dust is a changeling and he flies me way high into the sky! And then he does all the cool tricks that he did while pretending to be you, Miss Princess Celestia, during Nightmare Night – but with me on his back!”

Out of the corner of her eye, Celestia would’ve noticed the emotional equivalent of a bright red blush pop up on Dust’s face through the holes in his legs from where had been frozen, perhaps a bit unfairly, on the floor in the exact same position he’d been in for several minutes. She couldn’t blame him, though – she made one heck of a Nightmare Night costume, and he was just one of thousands who impersonated her on that night. But his response had brought up another question in the regal mare’s mind, and despite the whole ‘Luna I’ll be back in a half hour or so’ line she had said three hours ago, Celestia figured that it wouldn’t hurt to tickle her fancy a little bit more.

“And why, Flare, did you want to fly around on a changeling and not somepony like me, or Luna, or even Discord? Wouldn’t that be cooler?”

He looked from Celestia to Dust, and motioned for the deity to move her head closer, as if for a secret. Bending over almost double to do so, the colt eagerly whispered into her ear. “Maybe it would’ve looked cooler to fly around on your back, or even zig around in weird shapes with a Discord-qwus, but, between us, I think that Dust is the coolest friend to have, ever!” He said, clearly pouring out a great secret to the princess. “And I wanted a changeling ride and not some other thing ride because he never wants to be one! He’d give me a Princess ride anytime if I really wanted to have one, but he tries really hard to stay disguised in public, even if he told us it wasn’t easy to always be a pegasus, because he still thinks he’d make everypony uncomfortable if he didn’t pretend to be somepony he’s not. Besides, it’s not his fault, that’s just the way he was born!” He shot another glance at Dust, who was still crouched in the exact same pose as before. “I just wanted to let him know that he doesn’t have to pretend just to be the pony that I want to be when I grow up!”

Celestia looked at the colt oddly for a minute.

‘That… was deep, to say the least.’ She thought, allowing one of her characteristic smiles to appear upon her face. ‘It makes me wonder what sort of stallion this colt will grow into – especially given his cutie mark of 'flaming pogo stick'.’

“Between observing and conversing with the three of you, I have reached a conclusion.” Stated the princess, bringing herself to full height and re-lighting her horn with that celestial white glow. ‘Dust Mote, changeling, I banish you, and your witness, Dawn Guard…”

Flare gasped, and the two guards would have done so as well if Celestia hadn’t frozen them in place with her magic some time back, “… To the immigration embassy!”

The colt almost lunged for them, but shortly realized that the princess had not said ‘the moon’ or ‘lifelong imprisonment’. And by the time that he had remembered exactly what an immigration embassy was (he was still five, after all!), the three ponies in the town hall had exploded in quaint little showers of golden sparks.

He frowned, turned to the door, and made to leave. That was exactly why he liked Dust more than Celestia: he was blunt enough to tell him exactly what he was going to do, and not say some random vague words and teleport away before anypony could figure them out.

It seemed like a lot of the newer ponies were doing that lately. In all honesty, Flare found those ponies who purposefully mangled their wording to be the dumbest of them all.


The mare, the changeling, and the alicorn burst into existence with an explosion of golden light. Contrary to what one may have expected, the ‘bang’ didn’t come from the teleport itself. No, teleportation only caused an audible noise as the teleporters left, owing to the sudden vacancy in space that air rushed furiously into. The ‘bang’ actually came from the serene water cooler that the princess’ wing had bumped into on teleport, which proceeded to splash into the luxury heater, creating a complex chain reaction that ended with the immolation of said heater.

Still holding both of her captives in their frozen states, Celestia quickly swiveled her head to the left, then to the right.

And then, holding herself with a grace practiced over hundreds of years, she sprinted down the brighty-lit lobby, hurled Dawn and Dust through one of the pony-sized metal doors near the end, and exploded in another shower of sparks – back to Trotondo, to ensure that there weren’t any additional beasties there.

By the time the embassy’s sole, overworked janitor had run in to see flames spitting from the heater-concealing rectangular grate in the floor, the hallway was empty once more. With a groan, Posh Tips picked up the large bag of bits that had since appeared in the middle of the floor – just enough to fix the heater. Again.

The instant that Celestia threw her into the darkened room, Dawn Guard was finally able to relax her wings, blink, and itch the spot on her flank that had been tearing at her for the past while. A nearby thud (shortly followed by a groan) alerted the mare to the presence of her stallionfriend, and she made a blind lunge towards him, wanting a hug - a physical reminder that Dust was still there and well.

She missed and hit a wall.

Eventually though, after a fair amount of shuffling and inability to see anything, the two had finally managed to find each other and place their heads within whispering distance. Sure, they could’ve just talked loudly, but both felt as though doing that in a warm, muggy room with absolutely no light source wouldn’t be quite fitting.

Well, that and the whole ‘it’s awkward to talk loudly when in the comforting embrace of your special somepony’ thing.

“What do you think is going to happen to us?” Came a voice after a time.

“I… Don’t know.” Replied the other. “But she said this was an immigration embassy - it doesn’t sound very bad…”

“So? Changelings may look amazingly handsome, but a lot of them are evil vermin.” Said the first voice, its joking tone brightening up the mood a bit. “You, of all people, should know that.”

“And why would I know anything of evil insect ponies?” Said voice two in a mock-insulted way. “My special somepony is much more knowledgeable when it comes to the more… intimate details.”

“… What, exactly, do you mean by ‘intimate details,’ D-“

“Juuuust this little trick...” Said the voice in a fashion that could be described as ‘unfitting for the current situation,’ accompanied with the calm, swathing noise that shell and fur make when rubbed together.

“Whatareyou!?! This is hardly the place for…!” Exclaimed the other voice, sounding quite different from normal. In fact, it sounded almost as if…

All of a sudden, a bright flash of light blazed through the room, revealing it to be a deep, rectangular box of sorts, where the only decorations were the glaringly white walls and two round couch-chair-cushion things that the duo had somehow managed to miss. The far wall exploded into blue light, and the magnified image of a pale grey unicorn appeared, face adorned with a suspiciously generic grin.

“Hello!” It said, staring at the chairs. “Welcome to Equestrian Immigration Office,”

There was about a two second pause. Dawn and Dust didn’t notice – they were still in the corner, pressed together in a position that could be called nothing if not compromising, inappropriate and kinky. They were frozen just as surely as before, but without magic holding them in place that time.

“… Number seven!” Finished the stallion in a slightly higher voice, only to have it drop back to normal on his next line. “To proceed with registration, please sit in the designated seats and await further instruction. From me. The Immigrator.”

The unicorn on the screen went silent, and continued staring intently at the chairs.

“Dawn… I don’t think he’s a real pony…” Said Dust after a moment, awkwardly standing up and patting down a patch of his marefriend’s coat that had been ruffled in their little activity. “I’m pretty sure he’s a recording or something.”

Nodding, she came to her hooves and trotted over to the comfortable-looking chairs. Figuring that there was no other way out of the white box, she sat. The changeling followed suit shortly after.

Immediately, the unicorn on the screen continued to speak, as though nothing had happened.

“Commencing changeling identification procedure.”

A low hum filled the room for a second or two. Dawn looked around, wondering what the sound was. Dust, on the other hand, sneezed violently and briefly erupted in green fire, which achieved absolutely nothing, seeing as he was already undisguised. As soon as the flames had receded, the hum shut off and the announcer blinked once.

“Changeling identified!” He exclaimed, continuing to stare closely at a spot somewhere between the two chairs. “Please enter the name you identify with on our patented name registrar. First and last, if applicable.”

A large sheet of blue magic sparkled to life in front of Dust, adorned with about eighteen of the most common alphabets. A semi-transparent 32-letter slot appeared in front of the Immigrator’s face, and he fell silent once more.

After receiving another shrug from Dawn, the black coated being rolled his eyes and brought his hooves to rest over the Equestrian alphabet, where he rattled off his name for the second time that day.

“DUST MOTE accepted as name!” The Immigrator cried out after several seconds. “DAWN GUARD, please confirm the identity and trustworthiness of DUST MOTE.”

“Uh, he’s a great pony! Er, changeling!” She said, almost tripping on her words. “He’s been a great friend and partner in the guard in the eight months I’ve known him, and-“

“Response accepted! Commencing final procedure!”

An unnoticeable panel in the floor slid open, and from within the blackened chamber shot out a white cylinder about four feet long on a thick metal pipe. On the end facing the duo, a gold-rimmed opening allowed a glimpse inside, where what appeared to be burnt ice cube trays were affixed to every inch of the interior. Quickly, the ring began to glow a vivid green and the contraption swiveled to point at the changeling’s face.

“De-atomizer charged,” Stated the Immigrator in the same pseudo-engaged tone, “Firing now.”

Dust didn’t even have time to express his confusion before a bolt of energy replaced him in his entirety with a little pile of ash. Dawn, on the other hand, had time to let out a choked gasp before she, too, became de-atomized.

The Immigrator blinked. Then he smiled, and stopped pretending to be a prerecorded message. Blinking off his monitor, he turned to the other Immigrator, who was displaying incredible discipline and resolve by way of listening to Pinkie Pie explain – in overzealous detail – how good a changeling a certain ‘Silky Sheets’ was.

“They make a nice couple, dontcha think, Joe?”

The other pony groaned, hit the ‘cough’ button on his microphone, and hastily spoke his mind before the two ponies in room eight noticed.

“… Shut up, Ralph, I’m busy.”

Celestia allowed the golden glow to fade from her eyes, only slightly disappointed. The changeling detection spell hadn’t picked up any more within Trotondo, and while this meant she wouldn’t have to go through the effort (mild, albeit) of sending them by the Immigrators, it also meant she wouldn’t be able to mess with them.

From her perch on the highest point on the church, the princess gazed around, scanning for the characteristic green sparkles that marked the locations of re-atomization (a marvel that essentially reproduced teleportation, but with science!).

And, lo and behold, at that very moment a sparkle of green shimmered into reality on the roof of the gym. Smiling at her amazing senses of intuition and timing, Celestia bunched up her hindhooves and gave a mighty whinny, leaping clean over 3rd and 4th streets as majestically as a pretty pony princess could.

Judging from all the amazed ‘wow’s, snapshots of picture magic, and wild applause, pretty princess ponies could jump pretty darn majestically. Granted, she managed to accidently crater the roof of the gym upon landing, but she was sure nopony would notice.

‘… Just to be sure, though, I’ll just leave a bag of bits here, where any decent repairpony would look…’

Dust exploded into reality with a bang, feeling thoroughly violated, for lack of a better term. The changeling managed remain upright, albeit quite disoriented, for several seconds, until he came into contact with a coat of fur that was considerably softer than the one he was used to. Slowly – ever so slowly - he looked up to match the grinning gaze of none other than Princess Celestia.

Without further ado, he fell to the ground in a dead faint. Several seconds later, Dawn Guard popped into existence and collapsed onto her coltfriend, already out cold from his ‘death’. Finally, a wisp of green smoke made its way to Celestia, transforming into the most blatantly manila folder in the entire kingdom.

Celestia looked to her left, then to her right. Confident that nopony was looking, she flipped open the folder and carefully examined its contents. Several very new documents, a small blue passport, the stupid mandatory ‘Welcome to Equestria’ pamphlet, and a hastily scribbled note peered back. She clicked her tongue and pulled the last item out, wondering in the back of her mind what the Immigrators were really spending their bits on.

“Nanoscan reported 97.84% of love to be directly from ponies, Neurocleanse located no hostility or underlying control paths in either being,” She read aloud, already used to Immigrator Ralph’s horrible hoofwriting, “One of the best immigrants so far – and that’s not even taking into account his relationship with a non-bearer. I have authorized and prepared his paperwork, and as of now, Dust is a legal citizen of Equestria.”

The princess nodded, stuffed the sheet of notebook paper into her pocket dimension, and shut the folder. With a nod of her regal horn, the world around them blurred into the mesh of colors and sounds produced by a subconscious-driven teleport spell, only to reorganize into a place she could only guess was one of their bedrooms – Dawn’s, most likely, given how impossibly messy most changelings were.

She gently lifted the duo into bed, arranged them into a respectably embarrassing situation, and lifted the blanket over the changeling’s head, letting it drop when it had reached midway up the pegasus’ chest. Dust’s documents were placed neatly onto the bedside table, and with a smile much less mischievous than the grins she had been making up until that point, Celestia placed the dreams Luna had given her into their heads.

Dreams of happiness, acceptance, and safety. Dreams that whispered of comfort and love. Dreams that would allow the two to wake up with a full feeling in their hearts and a subtle curiosity as to what had happened that day. Odd, customized dreams that were just too perfect for anypony to think up on their own.

Dreams that were quite literally impossible without the blessing of a princess.

‘Essentially,’ Thought Celestia as she appeared on the throne, perfectly in time for the third quarter of the Day Court, ‘Dreams that prove integration of the changelings is better for everypony than throwing everything with a carapace into Tartarus.’

“As requested by Princess Celestia herself, the Day Court is now open for requests regarding non-pony immigrations to Equestria!” Called out the pony at the front desk, who shortly ushered in about two hundred entities.

‘Dreams that, in a nutshell, prove I am indeed still the best pony.’

A beam of sunlight struck his face, and Dust cracked an eye open. Around him lay a set of very ruffled sheets, a very nice shade of wallpaper indigenous to his marefriend’s house, the most beautiful pony he had ever seen, and a folder that seemed distinctly out of place on the bedside table.

Gently crawling over Dawn, the changeling peeked at the folder adorned with, of all things, his name and a smiley face drawn on in sharpie. Gingerly, he reached for it, breath bated in quiet suspense for what lay within. His hoof brushed against the top for a moment, when all of a sudden the sleeping mare next to him shifted, letting out a little groan and sending her hooves idly through the sheets where her changeling once was, searching for him.

Dust blinked once, and pulled his hoof back from the manila-coated distraction, though not before throwing it a look that said ‘I’ll get you later’ in no vague way. After all, whatever secrets it held for him could wait – there were more pressing matters to attend to.

And that is the story of how Dawn Guard woke up on her three hundred and sixty first day as a royal guard; held in the soft embrace of a very non-atomized changeling whose face was locked in a contented smile, even through the veil of sleep. She gave him a small, almost unnoticeable, kiss on the nose before curling up to his chest, eager to rejoin him in the land of dreams.

I'm sorry :c

(For both having this be a whole lot later than I had wanted, but also because its so bad compared to the first one.)

For the life of me I couldn't keep it even remotely as serious as I wanted; though I'm glad it didn't go into grimdark territory, this thing is filed under /humor for a reason, or so I like to think :P

... Listen to a minute of this and re-read the Immigrator's scene. You will never think of him the same again :D

And yeah, thats all I got for the time being :c ~ Hope you enjoyed the adventures of Dawn and Dust! (Not that they're over, just going on a [slightly {lol}] longer break this time, thus the 'complete' marking :o)

Comments ( 51 )

Awww. That was adorably sweet! Even more unashamed, undisguised Changeling love. And there was, of course, a potential kinky spin. Diamond Dog criminal humpery on special occasions. Hehe.

A cute little followup. Good times!

Thanks for all the kind words and favs and follows and upvotes, guys! It was a pleasure writing this for you and all the positivity is nothing if not awesome :3
Though, to all you readers, I have a single question...

*Flails arms around*
Aaaaahhhhh where are all of these views and favs and follows and upvotes in the last few days coming from?! Did I get on a famous authors userpage or the like? I don't know so inform me if I am O_o!
.... Not that I'm complaining, of course :D

(I hope somebody sees this lol)

The first chapter was cute and at times funny (Pinkie Pie..what the hell are you doing?), the second was ....hilarious, it took on a totally different tone than the first one, and damn I laughed alot.

Really good story mate, keep up the good work.

Your story has been added to The Dreamers, in the folder Dreams of Romance.

Heh. This chapter was decidedly weird, but still, nice :)

As for where faves and stuff are coming from, personally I marked this as Read Later when noticing it in the Queen Chrysalis' Changeling Hive group, and now took the time to read it (and fave it. And upvote it) :raritywink:

Also, I got a story that has a rather similar premise, though in my case the changeling has been married for 20 years when the invasion messes up everything.

... Nyergyuds, commenting on my story...!
*silent fanscream*

Really though, if that is the reason, thanks XD ~ its nice, knowing that the other half of the story's inspiration (Flitter!) likes it too :derpytongue2:

Heh. I'm hardly Pen Stroke, you know :unsuresweetie:

Always nice to serve as an inspiration, though :rainbowkiss:


I'm sorry :c

(For both having this be a whole lot later than I had wanted, but also because its so bad compared to the first one.)

dl.dropbox.com/u/31471793/FiMFiction/emoticons/sillyfilly_Twilight_Sparkle.png No, no, NO! What you SHOULD be sorry for is including "Trollestia" and "SCIENCE!". Actually, including "SCIENCE!" wasn't all that bad, but making me want to buck Tia's horn off that Pretty Pretty Princess head of hers was downright UNFORGIVABLE!

very cute story :heart: . Please tell me you have a sequel planned

Aww, how very cute. Glad to see Celestia's as reasonable (and mischievous) as ever.

lakes freeze overnight and the snow never stops falling.
Welcome to the outermost Equestrian colony, where the foreign threat is so marginally low that only two royal pegasi guards were needed to keep it safe.

Is this something against Canada?

JK, great story

Huh, I've never really had a pre-reader before... Not sure how that'd work XD
But if I ever need one/multiple, you'll be the first one I'll send word too :D

Hystrically adorable. trollestia is best pretty pony princess :yay:

pfff ahahahha one of the best goddamn stories i've ever read...really it had romance, seriousness and comedy in the right amount and time

Good job :twilightsmile:

Celestia is best pony and she knows it. Thoroughly enjoyable read:trollestia:

A very nice take on changeling love without needless drama and full of that good fluffy feeling you get from watching the show. Excellent work. :moustache:

Firstly, this story is so unbelievably adorable and amazing.

Secondly, a BIG mistake I noticed with you'd quotations. When you continue a sentence after dialogue (Example: “De-atomizer charged,” Stated the Immigrator in the same pseudo-engaged tone, “Firing now.”), no capitalization is needed. (So: “De-atomizer charged,” stated the Immigrator in the same pseudo-engaged tone, “Firing now.”) That pretty much happens throughout the entire chapter.
While it was a large, repeating error, it was virtually unnoticeable. Great job!

Lastly, your story was soooo cute!:rainbowkiss: :twilightsmile: :derpytongue2: Loved it!! Looking forward to more adventures concerning Dawn and Dust, if they are to come!

Aha! I knew I wasn't the only one noticing this O_o!
... As it turns out, public education doesn't teach these rules (or, at least, not in grades 0-10, from what I've experienced) and wasn't aware of the correct way to do this. And I'm still not all that good at it yet :|
So while chapters one and two will likely remain incorrect for the rest of eternity, the future ones shall indeed have (hopefully) correct dialogue grammar!
Thanks for pointing it out, though :twilightsmile:

That's actually still incorrect. In that example, the "Firing now.” is clearly a new sentence, meaning the part before it should not end with a comma:
“De-atomizer charged,” stated the Immigrator in the same pseudo-engaged tone. “Firing now.”

A comma at the end of the narration sentence is only needed if the 2 quoted parts around it are one sentence split in half, for example, on a sentence like this:
"Actually," she said, "there is a way."
As you see, in this case, the second part also doesn't start with a capital letter.

On the subject of quoting rules... Equestria Daily has a very useful document called the "Editor's Omnibus". Especially the "Self-Editing section" contains a treasure of information on correct formatting

I hope I won't jinx this but it's so rare to see story with ZERO downvotes, that speaks how awesome this story is.

NOOO you jinxed it D:
Though I *am* quite proud of it.. Even if I know updating it will inevitably get some sort of downvote, I'm content with having a story so loved :pinkiesad2:

absolutely fricking awesome, adorable and any other positive adjective that starts with "a". You should feel god damn proud if writing something with kind of quality, damn proud.

I don't know if your offer still stands but if you want somebody to bounce ideas off I'm on the the site everyday.

Excellent work, unbelievably sweet and endearing.:twilightsmile:

Why thank you, when I somehow manage to get back to my keyboard to write more things I think I'll take you up on that :O

D'aaaw, that was fun. And utterly adorable. The writing and tone is much more consistent here and Celestia being mischievous is hilarious.

And you used "vendor" here instead of "vender", that's great!

Two nitpicks:

"Celestia would’ve noticed the emotional equivalent of a bright red blush pop up on Dust’s face through the holes in his legs from where had been frozen," You lack either a "he" or a "they" between "where" and "had".

"The changeling managed remain upright," You lack a "to" after "managed".

Other than that, this was a great read. And I like the way you keep the utopian feel of Equestria, instead of all the, as you say, grimdark depictions of racism, speciesism, hate and mistrust that many write in works with changelings.

Happy writing.

2779928 I'm glad you liked it so much! (Though I still haven't finished that promised chapter three :fluttercry:)
And thanks a ton for catching that stuff (active narrator bit made my day :D) ~ as you probably figured out, the only one who sees this before it's published is silly 'ol me, so errors pop up. I'll update it soon with what you mentioned - I can't have my personally-best story look bad for history's sake :)

As far as specifics go, though...

Your shift from humour to heartrending angst and drama is very sudden and jarring.

My biggest regret. I didn't foreshadow the house scene at all, and in revisions, couldn't seem to find good moments to do so that wouldn't decimate the flow of the story. And yes, in hindsight, I did overdo the drama and overstylization (the choppiness) a fair amount there - at least for all the nonexistent buildup I had in the rest of the story.

What does "corporeally" mean?

Infernal vocabularies, I thought everyone knew that :<
... And then I looked it up, and it meant tangible, which is exactly the opposite of what I wanted to convey. Eheh, oops. Vocabs are hard >_<

Pretty sure every thing of pony size that is actually biological has an actual heart.

Author-canon (eew :facehoof:); I was going to go into more detail in another as-of-yet-unmade story, but I touch on changeling biology a bit in my Starswirl story. The gist of it is that they're 100% magical beings that are filled with green liquid life-energy (ala Danny Phantom ectoplasm, if you will) and protected with a shell. This stuff is what gives them the ability to live, grow, love, think and do all of those wonderful pony things (except blush, because it doesn't change color).

Again, thanks for the help, and I'm really glad you enjoyed :twilightsheepish:

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE WRITE MORE!!!!! DAWN AND DUST ARE SO CUTE!!! <3 And I actually really enjoyed the somewhat dramatic change in tone. also, Troll Celestia :P :trollestia:

Soon :D!

... I hope :x (Got somethin else I'm working on right now, though D:)

Silky Sheets???? I think i heard that name before but from what?

I loved the reference to Wild Joe and Ralph from some of Odyssey's music. It made me laugh.

Argh, yeah, that and 'its/it's' seem to be my biggest rivals at the moment X_x
But thanks for helping me out with my silly grammar, I'll see what I can do to fix it up!

Forgot to add in my previous comment. I love Dawn's "I have a date and NOTHING is ruining it!"

The immigration office was meh for me, but that epic run-on sentence was great.

I love this so much.

brao, lovely story and I really enjoyed it. You really got me there with the de-atomization thing, I was like, "YOU KILLED THEM!!!" D:

Nyerguds suggested this story for me, saying that the second chapter was extra silly. It didn't quite have some of the jokes I was looking forward too, but silly all the same. Great job, you did humor very well here. And it was awfully funny let me tell you that. I did notice that it seemed to be hinting at another story or stories. Dust was very cute in this fic.

Oh and I gotta say that my reaction to the kid's long winded speech went something along the lines of dread because of how huge that block of text was. Haha, but man was it work it. Funny kid there, Flare. I like him, cute.

Quaver Ava

Where did you get this image?:rainbowhuh: I want it. :pinkiecrazy:

Ah, sorry for the late reply, I often fail to check my inbox!

I made it myself; I'm no artist, but with enough time and a few reference images I think I did alright :P

5360006 wow. Can I get a link? I want this as a desktop background.:twilightsheepish:

If you click on the image and get it to enlarge, you can right click and save to your computer :D
(I'd link a higher resolution one, but it turns out that's the highest O_o)

5361553 :twilightsmile: thanks. One note though... :pinkiecrazy: Don't let applebloom do drugs.

Just read this, again. This is very funny and very sweet. And the side characters are hilarious, I love both Flare and the overzealously helpful pony who offers to lend Dust money for the dinner.

I know, I keep coming back to every now and then since first read it almost two years ago.

Chapter 1 was really really good. :pinkiehappy:

Chapter 2.............. I didn't like. :twilightoops:

...dammit trollestia!:trollestia:

Yeah... worst of all, chapter two STARTED wonderfully. But the moment Celestia said immigration center, everything fell apart and got stupid.

*reads the first half*


*reads the second half*

Wei-... I shoulda stopped while I was ahead.

I actually liked the second half. It's also interesting reading this now, after the changelings reformed. I'd love to see Dawn's reaction to when Dust turns into a sparkly Skittlebug.

First chapter was good. Second was so random you need to add that tag.

Chapter 1: 8/10 very good.
Chapter 2: ±3/5 wtf did I just read. Great opener and ender but the middle from Celestia catching Dust as a Changeling thru the immigration office was bad.

The "kinky" descriptor when they were in a dark room together has caused me to tentatively down-vote this otherwise excellent story.

Clarification might alter this occurrence.

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