• Published 16th Aug 2019
  • 3,037 Views, 107 Comments

Flickers - LoyalRenegade



A changeling with amnesia finds himself in the midst of an uncertain world.

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Chapter 1: Awakening

Part I:

Equestria Lost

Chapter 1 – Awakening


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My eyes forcefully opened, raspy lungs gasping for breath. My body was utterly broken, every inch of my being crying out in pure agony. Blood crept out of the cracks in my hard, black skin, only to be washed away from the pouring rain. Thunder boomed and crackled from above, sending ricocheting waves of pain throughout my skull.

I couldn't see exactly what it was, but I knew that something was carrying me; I could hear and feel the rhythmic clip-clop of every step it took as it walked. Looking up from its back, I saw a blurred purple figure trailing me and my carrier, emotions of disdain and fear emanating from it. I tried calling out to the figure, but all that came out was pained, incomprehensible groaning.

Without warning, my carrier suddenly stopped. I felt a force lift me up and place me on the ground, my face impressed into the mud. Two different voices were talking, but I couldn't make heads or tails of what they were saying, only able to catch small, detached bits and pieces such as "it's awake," "hurry up," and "sleep.”

Right after ‘sleep’, I found my pain gradually being replaced with a numbness. Starting at my lower body, it quickly traveled to my chest, went up through my neck, and finished at my head. I slowly grew more and more tired as an all-encompassing feeling of relaxation overtook my consciousness, and it wasn't too long before I eventually succumbed to the warm, comforting embrace of sleep.


My consciousness came back to me seemingly as soon as it left. The pain was, quite thankfully, gone, leaving my body slightly numb, though still weak.

I rubbed my eyes with both of my forelegs, smooth and cylindrical, both covered in bandages. I looked at my two lower legs, which were lying down on a pale-colored couch inside what looked like a living room. Both of my lower legs were riddled with Swiss-cheese-like holes near the ends which, curiously, weren’t bleeding at all.

Where am I? I thought.

I looked up and took a quick glance at my surroundings. The room itself was ordinary, with the usual furniture – some couches, a short-legged table, a lamp on a dresser, et cetera – standing on and around a worn-out carpet. A barren fireplace was inside the middle of a wall, the walls themselves covered with stripped, sickeningly yellow wallpaper. I leaned slightly out towards a small window, where I could hear the soft chirping of birds amongst the trees.

"Comfortable?"

I jumped, feeling something buzzing on my back as my eyes snapped towards the origin of the voice.

I couldn't help but be confused as a literal unicorn stood right across from my side. Its head had a round shape, with comically huge, purple eyes and a lavender coat for its body. The flat-shaped mane and tail were a darker shade of purple than its coat, a pink streak running down near the middle of both. I looked down at the unicorn’s hooves and noticed them being just as cylindrical as my own.

The most interesting feature of the unicorn, however, was the strange tattoo on its flank: a picture of a big purple star, with a couple of smaller white stars surrounding it, like it was sparkling.

The unicorn spoke again: "Well, I hope you are, because me and Crystal are going well above and beyond trying to help you out of all things." Her eyebrows furrowed in disdain.

Disdain.

My mind's eye flashed back to the night before. That purple figure that was behind me. Was it the unicorn? Who was carrying me through the storm, then? Was it this ‘Crystal’ she mentioned?

The unicorn scoffed. "You really should feel lucky, you know. If you told me even a week ago that I would be helping a changeling..." She trailed off. "Well, Crystal should be back soon. She went outside earlier to get some food. I would have gone with her, but even with all of the spells and enchantments I put in this room, somepony still needs to be watching you."

Spells? Enchantments? What?

"Hello!" said a chipper, female voice, accompanying the sound of a door being swung open. "I'm back, Twilight!"

"Oh, she’s back already?" the unicorn, ‘Twilight’, muttered.

That must be Crystal, I reasoned. I wanted to get a look at her, but the couch was, unfortunately, not facing the door. And I absolutely did not feel like sitting up, especially with my current condition.

Twilight looked visibly disappointed. "Just leaves and grass? Really?"

"I'm sorry, Twilight. It was all I could find, I swear," Crystal pleaded, her chipper tone fading away.

"Oh please," Twilight said, "you’ve got to be kidding me. Anypony can read a simple book on the subject and easily learn how to find actual food in the forest, not just boring leaves. In fact, I already did.”

Crystal didn’t respond, simply sighing. She walked over to me, making a familiar clip-clop noise. To my surprise, the first thing that I saw wasn't her, but a sparkling pile of green grass and leaves, floating in mid-air and surrounded by a blue aura. When she did step into my view, her horn was glowing in the exact same color.

Another unicorn?

She looked much like the other one. Her deep blue eyes were huge, just like Twilight's. Her coat sported a light blue color with a light green mane and tail. Unlike Twilight's, neither were as flatly shaped, looking more natural. A white bang on her mane went over her left ear and covered part of her face, while the tail had a similarly colored streak that ran all the way to the end.

Curious, I glanced at her flank. Another tattoo. This time, it was a simple image of three flying white doves.

"Hello," she greeted, noticing my presence. "I didn't know you were awake. I have some food for you. It's nothing special, but it should do!" A portion of the green pile separated itself from the rest, placing itself down on the table right across from the couch.

I stared at the food. I wasn't certain if I remembered, but I didn't think I ever had raw grass or leaves in my life. I looked to Crystal, unsure.

She seemed confused for a moment before her eyes filled with realization. "Oh, right." Her horn glowed. Soon, I found myself being lifted up in a blue aura and gently placed near the table.

"There, now you can't fall while standing up and accidentally rip the bandages. We don't want those off just yet," she chuckled.

As much as I didn't want it, I was now that much closer to the pile.

Crystal stared at me, smiling. When she realized that I wasn't even taking a bite, her expression started to fade, ears drooping. "Is there something wrong with the food?" She turned around. "Twilight?"

She shrugged. "Looks fine to me." Her voice turned lower, quieter. "More or less."

Crystal's horn glowed again, taking a single leaf off of the pile. "Here," she offered, levitating it right in front of me.

Well, wouldn't kill me to at least try it, right?

Hesitantly, I took a small bite. It tasted... surprisingly fine. Maybe a little bland, but its flavor was otherwise more or less what I expected.

"See? It's not so bad," she cheered.

I ate the rest of the leaf. I then leaned over to the pile, having a bit of the grass. It was just like the leaf, but with a slightly more ‘earthly’ taste. Now feeling more confident, I continued to consume the rest of the pile, all until it was gone.

"Wow, you ate that quicker than I expected," Crystal said, surprised.

"Speaking of eating, we should probably have a little something to eat ourselves," noted Twilight.

Crystal paused, thinking. "Go ahead, Twilight. I'll join you later; I have to check how this one's recovery is coming along."

Twilight nodded, though not before rolling her eyes. The bigger pile of leaves and grass on the floor floated upwards in a purple aura, moving with Twilight into what I assumed was the dining room.

And so she was gone, leaving only Crystal and me.

She sighed. "Please excuse my friend's abrasiveness, she's been having a rough time recently." She put a hoof to her chin. "Well, actually, now that I think about it, we all have." A familiar aura surrounded her horn. "Don't move, I'm going to put you back on the couch." A blue aura enveloped my body again, lifted me up, and gently returned me to where I was.

She paused for a moment, gazing over me, thinking. "Do you have a name?" she asked.

I stared at the wallpaper, trying my hardest to remember. But my mind drew a blank. I looked back at her, shaking my head.

"You don't know?"

I nodded.

She sat down on her haunches. "Well, that's not really a surprise. There was a big thunderstorm last night, when we found you. Some lightning must have struck a tree while you were under it and gave you a concussion. We heard a scream, rushed over, and there you were. I don’t know if you remember that either."

She looked out the window for a while before turning back to me. "Normally, a tree as big as that one would have killed a pony, but, well, you aren't a pony. Your chitin exoskeleton helped to absorb most of the damage, but even then, you're still lucky to be both alive and recovering as fast as you are."

I stayed silent, not sure what to say. It was a lot to take in at once, after all.

"You don't... talk much, do you?"

I cleared my throat. "I didn't think there was much to say." I gestured over to the room Twilight was in. "And, well, there's also her..."

"Don’t mind Twilight. She’s actually more caring than you think, and also a very good friend. She just doesn’t have good history with, well-”

"Changelings?” I said, finishing her own sentence. “Why would she hate me because I’m a changeling? I don't even remember what a changeling is!”

Crystal looked down sympathetically. "I’ll tell you soon, I promise. But we don’t have much time right now; you need to go to bed as soon as you can, right after your checkup.”

I looked out the window. The sun was already nearly behind the trees. I took a deep breath, resting my head back on the pillow.

“Just lie still and relax," Crystal assured. "It won’t take too long.”

She stood up and leaned her head towards me, horn already glowing. In an instant, I could feel different parts of my body being poked and prodded at once, even though nothing physical was there. It wasn’t painful, but it wasn’t exactly comfortable either. Though the whole procedure probably only took a few minutes, it nevertheless felt like ages until it finally stopped.

"Everything looks swell," Crystal stated happily. "It looks like you'll be ready to have the bandages taken off tomorrow.” She placed a hoof on me, giving me a gentle smile. I flinched slightly. “Sleep well, okay? Your body needs all the rest it can get."

Crystal stood up and then abruptly stopped, her expression fading. "Uh... Twilight?"

The unicorn in question took a deep breath. "Crystal, you are a very talented and fine doctor, and I hold a great deal of respect for you. But, sweet Celestia, that is not a foal!"

Crystal rubbed one of her temples with a hoof. "He's frightened, Twilight. I'm just giving him some comfort, there's nothing wrong with that."

"Oh, frightened? You don't think I might be a little frightened that there's a changeling sitting right there?"

"Even if he could move, the spells you set up wouldn't let him do anything!"

"And what's more," she continued, ignoring her, "now you're also talking to it! Did you forget? Because that's how they get into your head, Crystal."

"You have every right to complain, Twilight, but if you’re going to, can you at least not do it in front of him?"

Twilight laughed. "Sure, we can talk all about it at dinner," she said in a sing-song voice.

Crystal and Twilight walked back into the dining room, shutting the door behind them. Not long after, I heard them start to argue, although it mostly seemed like it was Twilight doing most of the arguing part.

I buried myself into the couch, putting a pillow over my ear in order to block out the sound, but to no avail. I could still hear them even as I fell asleep.