• Published 10th Jul 2020
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Howlite Howler 3 - JNKing

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Chapter 6: The Mirror

Shiva wasn’t sure why she noticed the mirror. Maybe it was because it was something different from the many appointments and questions that blurred one day into another.

Either way, the mirror still stuck out in Shiva’s mind that day; a beautiful, perfect oval of glass, framed by a magenta, horse-shoe shaped rim lined with pink gems and topped with a small window depicting a prancing pony.

“Auntie Celestia’s Crystal Mirror?” Cadence asked.

“With all due respect,” the delivery pony said with a genuine bow. “Princess Celestia has asked if the Crystal Mirror may be kept in the Empire for safe-keeping?”

“Any particular reason?” Shiva asked, eyeing the strange crystal like sheen on the glass with intrigue.

The delivery pony glanced at Cadence, but after a suspicious look from Luke, Cadence quickly nodded consent for him to explain.

“The Crystal Mirror was an artifact left over from the days of Star Swirl the Bearded,” the pony explained. “His latest in a string of experiments regarding travel to different worlds.” He gave Shiva a cautious look. “Considering your… mm, ‘history’ in the subject, the Princess thought you might be willing to watch over it for her.”

Shiva’s ears completely perked at that. Other worlds? As in…?

No. She tried to push the thought aside. I’m happy with what I’ve got here in Equestria. It didn’t start off that well, but I’ve made something for myself!

Haven't I?

Shiva steeled herself to reject the mirror. But a glance from Cadence stayed her words.

“We’d be honored to look after it for Auntie Celestia,” Cadence replied. She nodded to Shining Armor. “Shiny, please direct them to one of our storage rooms.”

Shiva and even Scorpia gave her an intrigued look, but Cadence didn’t dare speak until the ponies had dragged the mirror from the room.

“Well,” Scorpia commented. “That mirror certainly got a reaction from the two of you.” She turned first to Cadence. “What else is so special about that mirror?”

Cadence sighed. “A former student of Auntie Celestia’s went in it,” she said. “I don’t know all the details, but she’s been gone for a while, and she… didn’t exactly leave Princess Celestia on a high note.”

“So, she wants us to do… what with it?” Shiva asked. “Guard against her return?” She gave where the mirror had gone a sour look. "What does she think we are? Glorified guard dogs?"

“Hardly,” Cadence replied quickly. “Auntie Luna told me the mirror can’t open for thirty moons.”

“When was the last time thirty moons passed for it?” Luke replied.

Cadence pursed her lips. “The same time her student vanished,” Cadence replied. “I think that was…" She paled. "Twenty nine moons ago.”

"Coming on thirty!" Shiva glanced at the mirror. “So, she could come back any day!"

“Look, it’s nothing to worry about,” Shining Armor insisted. “Whatever problems Sunset Shimmer has, they’re with Celestia, not us.” He gave Shiva a particular look. "You shouldn't have anything to worry about."

"She won't know about our... alliance with you," Luke pointed out.

"Which is why I put it where the diamond dogs don't roam," Shining Armor growled back. "As long as you both keep your noses out of it..."

"Shining!" Cadence said sharply, giving Shiva an apologetic look. "Look, you don't have to worry, Shiva. This is going to be our problem. And we'll take care of it."

But Shiva still glared at where the mirror had been taken. Concerns about a vengeful unicorn busting through wasn’t the only thing on her mind.

It was what world she had gone to that was on the other side.

The appointments went by in a flurry after that. Despite an offer by Cadence to meet up with Twilight and finally answer her questions (Seriously, Shiva thought. Doesn’t that purple mare have other things to do besides pester me?) Shiva brushed her off with an excuse about being tired and followed the scent the delivery ponies had left. And all too soon, she found it.

The mirror had been set up in an out of the way storage room. Small framed pictures adorned the wall, and a few trinkets decorated a nearby table. But the mirror was the main trinket that dominated the storage room.

Cautiously, Shiva crept up to the crystal-like glass. Stretching out her claws, she rested them on the smooth surface.

Nothing happened. Her reflection just gazed at her, looking so much like another diamond dog. It was hard for Shiva to not question if there was another dog on the other side of the glass.

The opening door jarred her out of her thoughts, and she found Luke watching her.

“Anything?” he asked.

Shiva glanced at the mirror again. “You mean signs of this unicorn who hates Celestia?” she asked. “No.”

Luke gave the mirror a suspicious look. “They said it takes you to other worlds,” he said. “Think it might take you… to wherever you were before?”

He barely got to finish the question before guilt flooded Shiva’s heart, and she yanked her claw away.

“No,” she said. “How I got here wasn’t exactly glamorous. But I’m happy with what I’ve gained.” She strode over to him. “If I had stayed on the world I came from,” she said softly. “We’d have never met.”

Luke chuckled, his jealousy fading. “We… didn’t exactly meet under the best of circumstances,” he admitted.

Shiva rested his claws on her stomach. “That doesn’t matter,” she said. “What matters is what we have now. And what we’re going to have soon.”

Luke’s tail wagged, and he rested his head against hers. Shiva briefly started to twine a pack link around his wrist, before thinking better. The pack link meant her thoughts would be right out in the open. And despite her trying to repeat her spoken words in her head… they just didn’t seem to be sticking.

If that mirror really does lead somewhere… where would it go?

It doesn’t matter, she tried to insist, as she let Luke lead her back to the diamond dog section of the castle. The stupid thing doesn’t even work.

Yet, just as she thought she had buried her wandering thoughts…

But what if it did?

#

Despite Shiva trying to throw herself into ruling, her pregnancy had its own time limit. And try as she might, her body still had needs.

“Shiva, you don’t have to keep attending,” Cadence insisted one day, after a bout of morning sickness led to a very unpleasant ending to a changeling and pony asking if they could date. “Just send Luke in your place.”

“I promised to lead this Empire,” Shiva said, despite her skin growing so pale, her fur looked gray in comparison. “I can’t shirk my duty.”

“And you can’t deny your body,” Scorpia said. “You’re not a changeling, Shiva. There’s no shame in resting.”

“Besides,” Cadence said. “I got word from Celestia that Twilight’s going to be promoted to Princess.”

Shiva stared up at her. “Sparkle’s… going to be a Princess?” she asked. “As in… I’ll be obligated to spend more time with her?” The next bout of morning sickness came a lot easier after that revelation.

“I know you two have a… unique relationship,” Cadence said.

“That’s putting it mildly,” Scorpia commented.

“Which is why I’m encouraging her to take some time off,” Cadence said to Scorpia, before turning back to Shiva. “We agreed to celebrate Twilight’s coronation with a Princess Summit, here in the Crystal Empire.”

“We did?” Shiva moaned.

“That was meeting 47 yesterday,” Skippy replied, poking his head around the corner and waving a note pad. Shiva sighed; she hadn’t been paying attention to the meetings; spending more time daydreaming about the strangest combinations of dog food and vegetables.

Cadence pat her side as she sighed. “Take some time off, Shiva,” she encouraged. “We can cover for you.”

Their intentions were good, but without anything to do, Shiva was only able to nap. And when night came, and Luke was passed out next to her, she was left wide awake and with no idea what to do.

Part of her considered raiding the food storage, though that would’ve meant bartering more with Applejack and the others for early re-stocking. Part of her wanted to wake Luke, but from the way he was sprawled out on their bed, she didn’t think it was a good idea to wake him after whatever the ponies had put him through.

Which left…

The mirror.

Against her better judgement, Shiva crept out of her room, avoided the patrolling guards, and made it back to the mirror.

Something was different this time; Shiva could tell before she walked in. There was a strange scent coming from it; pony-like, but with another scent behind it. Something Shiva couldn’t quite place, but was sure she had smelled before. Following it to the mirror, she noticed a strange glow to the glass. The pink gems looked a little bit shinier; the magenta rim more radiant. And when Shiva crept up to the mirror, she swore it shimmered like glass. Her reflection was also... different.

Curiosity, fear and a faint, yet powerful, longing in her heart urged her claw forward. She stretched it out towards the surface, expecting it to once again rest on the smooth glass.

Instead… it sunk through like water. Magic glowed around Shiva’s claws, like she had torn open a portal to another dimension.

Before Shiva could rip her arm back, a shout echoed down the hallway.

“STOP!”

Shiva flinched, made a split second choice, and jumped forward. Right into the mirror.

Gale force winds yanked at Shiva from every direction. Lights of every color blinked and danced before her eyes. Everything lost meaning; Shiva felt like she was falling through space and time itself. Her pups squrimed in her womb, probably feeling the turbulence of the trip, which seemed to take forever, and yet no time at all.

Before Shiva understood what was happening, the lights faded away with a final flash. She hit solid concrete on all fours, struggling to keep from pitching to her side.

Yet, as she blinked the globs of light from her eyes, she became aware of something odd. Her claws felt like they had shrunk. She couldn’t bring herself up from all fours.

She looked around… and gasped in shock. There was a mirror in front of her. And a disturbingly familiar white dog was standing before her. Her brown eyes. Her white fur. Yet… there was no diamond dog to the mix. It was just an ordinary husky. When she moved, the husky in the mirror moved. She…

She…

She looked down.

She was a regular dog again! Her claws were gone; her humanoid visage was completely missing. She was back to being a regular dog!

As if to drive the point home, a voice drew Shiva’s attention.

“Oh, my goodness! Where did you come from?”

Shiva turned, to find a pair of azure eyes – familiar and yet unfamiliar – gazing down at her with adoration. Shiva’s ears perked, and her jaw dropped in amazement.

It was a human! One that oddly looked like Fluttershy, with pale yellow skin and a long pink hair, but her expression.

It was exactly like Shiva’s own master.

“It’s okay,” human Fluttershy whispered, holding her hand out with a treat. “I just want to be your friend.”

The treat smelled amazing – it smelled of home, Shiva couldn’t help but think – and before she knew it, she had scarfed the offering down. Fluttershy drew closer, rubbing her hands along Shiva’s ears. The dog found herself tapping her back paw in glee; it had been so long since she had gotten to enjoy luxuries like this.

“Oh, what I would give to know what you’re really thinking…” Fluttershy whispered. “Where’s your home?”

Shiva glanced as much around as she couldn’t without interrupting Fluttershy’s scratching. She was in some kind of courtyard; with a large building looming in the background. Other humans were wandering around, and just above the mirror she had spotted, Shiva noticed an odd statue with a mirror like surface behind her.

Suddenly, the mirror shimmered. Shiva blinked in alarm, before a clink drew her gaze.

“Oh!” Human Fluttershy gasped, picking up some sort of crown that had fallen around Shiva’s paws. She gave the item a strange look before turning her attention back to Shiva.

“Sorry,” Fluttershy said. “L-Let me take this inside.” She lifted her hands as she rose. “I’ll be right back, I promise. Just stay, okay?” She made a motion that Shiva recognized, causing her to sit. “Good girl. Just stay there. I’ll be right back.”

Familiar with the command, Shiva sat and waited as the girl raced inside. For a moment, Shiva just watched the strange humans. A few noticed her and smiled. A few whispered at each other. A strange girl seemed to appear from around the mirror, searching around the grass and glaring at Shiva before storming off.

Shiva could only watch the whole thing in shock; this was her home! This was where she had been; with humans!

And to make matters even weirder, Fluttershy – a pony that still gave Shiva a sense of doubt – had some sort of counterpart here. And Shiva was getting off on a far better paw with her than her pony half could ever have hoped for.

The second Human Fluttershy showed back up, Shiva stood up, her tail wagging and her tongue lolling in a pant. Other humans pointed and chuckled as Fluttershy went right back to pampering Shiva, but the dog didn’t care.

“Sorry about that,” Fluttershy said. “So, do you have a home? Or… do you need my help?” She rubbed a hand over her swollen stomach. "Are you... are you having puppies?"

Shiva wasn’t sure if she could still talk or not, but she also didn’t know if these humans would find such a thing strange or scary. So, she settled for a glance back in the mirror’s direction.

“Over there, somewhere?” Fluttershy asked. “Can you show me? I can’t just leave you out here alone.” She grinned sheepishly. "A-Again."

Shiva gave a small bark to show she understood, and when Fluttershy made a familiar motion to stay at her heel, Shiva obeyed. The motions felt amazing; like settling back into an old routine after a long vacation away.

Memories poked at Shiva’s mind, however: Luke. Her diamond dogs. Outer Haven. And Shiva began to look back at the mirror-like surface on the statue.

“What’s the matter?” Fluttershy asked, her voice so kind and worried.

Shiva’s ears flattened. She couldn’t just leave this kind human. She was too much like Master. But how was she supposed to convey that her home might just be in a mirror?!

“Fluttershy!” an angry voice barked.

Fluttershy winced, and Shiva felt her fangs baring in a snarl. I definitely can’t leave her now, she decided.

Another human was marching towards her; the same one that had appeared right next to the mirror. Darker yellow skin, with fiery red and gold hair.

“What did you do with the crown?” the girl demanded, as Fluttershy tried to back away.

“I-I didn’t…” Fluttershy started to whimper, before Shiva jumped between them, growling maliciously at the girl.

The girl backed up, surprise streaking her features as Shiva snarled at her.

“Call off that dog,” the girl demanded. “Call it off!”

“I…” Fluttershy whimpered.

“Call it off, before I call Animal Control!” the girl snarled, whipping out a phone.

“No!” Fluttershy shrieked, before bending down. “Here, girl,” she whispered. “It’s okay.”

Shiva looked back at her, while the girl chuckled darkly.

“How is it that such a pathetic...?”

Shiva spun back around and snarled again.

“No, don’t!” Fluttershy yelped, pulling Shiva away from the girl. “Don’t,” she said in a softer voice. “I-It’s okay, she didn’t mean any of it.”

But judging from how the girl rolled her eyes, Shiva got the impression she meant every word of it.

“Look, I don’t have time for your weird love for strays,” the girl said. “Where is the crown?”

Fluttershy almost buried her face in Shiva’s back. “I just gave it to the Principal,” she whimpered. “I didn’t want anything to happen to it.”

“The only thing that was going to happen to it was me taking it,” the girl said harshly. “You shouldn’t pick up things that don’t belong to you.”

Fluttershy looked away, a mumble reaching Shiva’s ears.

“It doesn’t really belong to you either,” she mumbled.

“Excuse me?!” the girl tried to demand, but Shiva barked at her. The girl glared down at Shiva again, but didn't dare approach. “You really are pathetic,” the girl growled. “It’s no wonder your best friends are all stray animals.”

Before Shiva or Fluttershy could find a reply for that, a new voice spoke up. Much more familiar, even if it brought a surge of irritation to Shiva's mind.

“How dare you speak to her that way!”

Shiva and Fluttershy looked up as a new girl suddenly appeared next to the mirror. Purple skin, and magenta hair just like the mane of a certain new princess back in Equestria. And right behind her…

"What did you… say?” the girl’s demand turned into a squeak as what had to be a human version of Luke lumbered up on her. Briefly, Shiva wondered why he had turned human, but his voice quickly silenced any thoughts.

“I don’t care what she said,” Luke growled, bearing down on the girl. “What I care about is why you’re going after my…” He faltered, glancing at Shiva, who shook her head at him. It was probably going to be beyond weird if he referred to her as his mate, considering the species difference.

However, his falter was to the girl’s advantage, and her grin came back.

“You two must be new here,” she declared, brushing past them. “I can speak to anyone any way I want!”

She stormed off, shooting a death glare at another kid, who shot out of her way. Human Luke and what had to be a human Twilight glared at her, before Luke turned to Shiva, kneeling down and stroking her fur.

“You alright, Shiva?” he asked. “It’s me.”

Shiva blinked at him in shock. He… knew her? As in… she looked back at the mirror, and understanding crept onto her face. Luke glanced up at Fluttershy, who was cautiously petting her as well, but with another look at Shiva, his suspicious look faltered.

“Thank you for watching over her,” he said to the human Fluttershy. “It’s bad enough she was pregnant; I almost thought I was going to lose her forever.”

"No kidding," Twilight deadpanned behind him.

“Pregnant?! Oh, my,” Fluttershy said, before gazing up at Twilight with awe. “I just… can’t believe you stood up to Sunset Shimmer like that.”

“Sunset Shimmer?” Twilight asked.

Luke huffed. “I don’t care who she is,” he declared. “No one hurts my Shiva.” He stroked her again, before glancing up at Twilight. “You got things from here?”

Twilight nodded. “Yeah.” She helped Fluttershy up. “Can you help me around?”

“Oh, I… yes, I suppose,” she said, looking back as Luke led Shiva off. “Take care of her.”

“Without a doubt,” Luke replied.

As Twilight led Fluttershy – still watching Shiva with a wave goodbye – away, Luke led Shiva back to the portal.

“C’mon,” he said.

Shiva gave a reluctant look around – she wanted to protest. To say this had been her home. Fluttershy had been just like her old master.

But then she felt the shudder of life in her gut. And as much as she wanted to stay, she knew she couldn't.

Your pups need to be born in a proper home, a voice in her head reminded her. A place where they can grow and learn and play in peace. A place where you decide when they leave the nest… and not someone else.

Shiva wasn’t sure where the voice was coming from, but it made its point more than clear. With a nod to Luke, the two checked for any observers, and when the route was clear, Luke pulled her into the mirror-like surface of the statue.

Once again, bright colors flashed before her, but with Luke tightly gripping onto her, Shiva was able to cling to him and endure the strange trip through time and space. Even as her pups squirmed again, clearly not used to the strange travel.

Finally, her paws hit solid crystal, and when she opened her eyes, her diamond dog form was back, and she was back in the Crystal Empire. Celestia stood before her, as did…

“Luna,” Shiva muttered, her tone cold as ice.

Luna winced, before Celestia wisely covered her with a wing.

“Are you well, Shiva?” she asked.

Shiva lifted her claws, clenching them to ensure they were real. However, her gut was squirming like it was full of worms. Or something else…

Something that wanted out.

Shiva clutched at her gut. “I need to get back to my den,” she said.

“But… don’t you think Twilight could use her help?” Shining Armor asked.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Celestia refuted. “Who knows what the magic might have done to her pups.”

Shiva’s ears flattened. “Might have done?” she squeaked.

“Please,” Celestia insisted. “Twilight can handle things here. Let me call some of our doctors to help you.”

“I’ve helped a couple of animals give birth before,” Fluttershy said, stepping up. “Please, I can help with this.”

Shiva wanted to protest, but as the area around her gut chilled and throbbed, her protests died in her throat.

“Easy, Shiva,” Luke said, lifting her up. “It’s going to be okay. Let’s get back to the den.”

Shiva nodded, letting him carry her from the room. Yet, as her mind struggled to deal with the impending birth of her pups, she couldn’t help but give the mirror another look, as well as a more searching look at Fluttershy, who gave the mirror one more anxious look of her own before turning to Luke and Shiva with a far more comfortable look in her eyes. Applejack had a muttered conversation with Rainbow Dash before reluctantly staying at the rest of the mares’ sides. Pinkie was watching Shiva with a very intrigued expression.

Shiva knew she shouldn’t dwell on her old life. Her human master was long gone, and she had built a better life for herself in Equestria, despite the rough start. A life that was going to get far more interesting, as the wriggling in her womb proved.

And yet… she couldn’t help but think about the world of humans just a mere gateway away. And a version of Fluttershy – kind and loving – that Shiva actually got off on a good paw with.

Don’t worry about it, that voice said, deep and powerful. You’ll be happier here. At the very least your puppies will be.

Yes, things will be far better for your puppies if they are born here. Heirs to my Crystal Empire.

Author's Note:

And with that, we have Shiva's contribution to the first Equestria Girls.

Sorry if the timing was a little off (Twilight showing up right as Sunset started bullying Fluttershy) and also sorry that Shiva didn't interact with Sunset that much. But, that doesn't mean that Shiva won't run into Sunset again: the Equestria Girls land may not be our world completely, but it's close enough for Shiva.

And that's going to be something that's gonna tempt her, even with everything she's built in Equestria. :applejackunsure:

Thanks again for reading, and I look forward to hearing what you think.