• Published 27th Sep 2020
  • 1,503 Views, 383 Comments

Live While we're Young - The Blue EM2

The ongoing adventures of the Young Six as they face ongoing challenges and find love.

  • ...

Steam Train to Mallaig, Part 2

The two individuals (or rather, should I say, creatures) who were standing on the platform were the previously discussed blue Changeling, but there was also another one there as well. This one was turquoise in colour, had no horn, and also had purple eyes, a yellow carapace, pink wing covers, a pink, translucent tail, and a giant grin on their face.

Ocellus reacted almost instantly to their prescence, and tore over to them. "Mom! Dad!"

The turquoise one immediately took the younger Changeling in a hug. "Hello Ocellus," she said gently, her voice confirming her to be female. "I've missed you."

"As have I," the male added as well. "The world is a very small place, eh?"

The others had closed the ground by this point, and looked on with smiles and a slight look of surprise. "Hello!" Sandbar said, trying to get their attention. "I've never met you guys."

The female Changeling looked up. "So, you're the Sandbar I've heard so much about!" she said. "I'm Ommatidia." She indicated to the other Changeling. "And this is my husband, Aristate."

"Yona thought Changelings lived in Hive and had Queen." The yak looked very confused.

Aristate spoke up. "That was indeed correct until very recently. However, when Thorax the Liberator saved us, we realised that our society could function better and more efficiently if our Hive was built around the conventional family unit rather than lots of grubs and drones being readied either for war, manufacturing, or... other things." There was a clear look of discomfort on his face, and as such Yona decided not to push the question further.

"So, how'd you get out here?" Smoulder asked.

Ocellus, who by this point had broken the hug, had a similar look of confusion on her face. "I was wondering that too. How are you guys out here?"

"Well, the smelting got slow, as you probably recall," Aristate replied, "but I found that my unique skills fitted in here perfectly. I applied to join Ian Riley and Sons as an engineer, and before I knew what had happened I was trained up as a fireling. Calling me a fireman would hardly be appropriate as I'm not a human."

"I wanted to pop out and see you," Ommatidia added. "It gets really lonely some days back at the Hive, and sometimes seeing a familiar face can really help brighten up my day."

"Don't you have two other nymphs?" asked Silverstream. "In a Hearth's Warming photo you sent Ocellus, there's two other Changelings in the picture."

"Oh, the green and pink ones!" Ommatidia laughed. "Those aren't mine. A neighbour had gone out on a business trip and asked me to keep an eye on those two for a bit. It happened to coincide with our first ever Hearth's Warming celebration!"

"That was a crazy Hearth's Warming," Gallus noted, suddenly noticing something else from the train. "Oh, Mr Ocellus-"


"Mr Aristate, there's a person wanting to see you."

Ian Riley poked his head out of 45407's cab. "Aristate!" he called. "Get the brakes equalized and get on the footplate! We're about to start reversing to Arisaig!"

"Yes sir!" Aristate called. He glanced back to his wife and his daughter and her friends. "See you later!" He jumped onto the footplate, and waved as best as he could as the engine and its train backed up with jets of smoke and steam.

The rest of the time in Mallaig, of which they had quite a lot, the Young Six and Ommatidia spent the time exploring the town of Mallaig, and seeing the wonders of the town, which were few and far between as it was was glorified ferry port for the Isle of Skye, and most of the businesses were supporting that industry, ranging from boat repair to fish and chip shops (which didn't really work as most of the creatures didn't eat meat).

"Ooh! There's a museum!" Ocellus said. "Shall we go in?"

"Perhaps not Yona," Smoulder suggested. "Yona is very clumsy."

"Yona offended by accusation! Yaks always know where paws are!" Unfortunately, Yona promptly ate her words... as well as a concrete paving slab, as she slipped and fell flat on her face. "Yona slipped on scarf!"

"So, yeah," Gallus drawled. "She's clumsy."

"Thanks for stating the obvious," Smoulder snorted, smoke pouring from her nostrils.

Ommatidia was quite keen to get the conversation back on topic. "Yes, I think we should. I think it'll be a nice way to spend an hour."

And it was. Although the museum was quite small and old fashioned in many ways, with many of panels of text and pictures rather than the touchscreens common at the newer museums which usually resulted in children running riot and screaming like lunatics. Or was that bad parenting?

Apart from a few questions about why she was so colourful and shiny, Ocellus generally went about without interruption, clearly enjoying the time with her parents. "I must invite you two to the School of Friendship someday," she said to her mother.

"Oh, we'd love to come see it," Ommatidia replied. "But I don't think there's anywhere to stay in Ponyville."

"Professor Applejack is building an extra accomodation block for the school," Sandbar mentioned. "We've already dubbed it the 'Hotel of Friendship'."

"That could work!" Ommatidia smiled. "I guess most students travel very long distances to go to the School. And, of course, Thorax dropped you off. I'm not really sure why the national leaders were the ones to do the dropping off."

"I think it was to show commitment to the project," Gallus explained. "At first I thought it would be a waste of time, but it's where I met my friends. We became friends despite, not because of, the school, partly because the early days were so chaotic."

"And then Professors Applejack and Rainbow Dash demonstrated teamwork in a field trip!" Silverstream interrupted. "That was a crazy day."

"They demonstrated teamwork by showing us the exact opposite of it and nearly got Yona killed," Sandbar said bitterly. "It's really no surprise the other races mostly see us as idiots."

"I don't think you're an idiot," Ommatidia said gently. "Based on what Ocellus has told me, you're one of the kindest creatures out there. Not a letter goes by without her mentioning you."

Sandbar looked stunned. "Th- thanks." He genuinely had no idea how to react other than that. A loud whistle outside distracted his thoughts. "That's the train!"

"Right, off we go!" Smoulder called. "This way, slowpokes!"

"Yona move on four limbs!" Yona called. "Yona much slower!"

"What's wrong now?" Ian asked, looking out of the cab.

"The brake blocks on the brake coach are stuck!" called Aristate. "There's some sort of issue with the vacuum. Run the brakes again!"

Ian applied the brakes, and then released them. They came on succesfully in most coaches, and came off on most of them. But the ones on the brake coach remained stubbornly on. "Great. This is the last thing we needed!"

Aristate studied the brake pads closely, and then had an idea. "Do you have a spanner spare?"

Ian made sure the tender brake was on, and then opened the toolkit. He produced a spanner and climbed down the cab steps, walking to Aristate with it. "Here you go."

Yellow fire washed over Aristate, and in his place was suddenly a centaur. Gripping the spanner, he swung it at a valve on the coach with a bang. In that moment, the creature's brute strength freed the direct admission valve, and the brake blocks on the carriage came off.

The Changeling switched back to normal, and turned to a stunned Ian. "Nothing to it, really," he smiled. "We used to have to fix faulty machinery in the foundry all the time. If in doubt, hit it with a hammer."

Ian was silent for a moment. "I sincerely hope you don't take this approach to maintaining all of my machinery, Mr Aristate."

The journey back, this time with Ommatidia onboard, was nice, with the meal being served onboard. There was food that all could eat, mixed with vegetarian and meat. Not entirely surprisingly, the two Changelings had a few questions.

"I don't understand how you two can eat food, as I thought you ate love," Gallus asked.

"Changelings have full digestive systems," Ommatidia explained. "Or else being invited to tea parties would be incredibly awkward."

The train got back to Fort William with no difficulty, and the friends returned to their home, Ommatidia opting to return to Equestria via portal. And soon, the six friends would themselves be returning to Equestria to conclude their term at the School of Friendship, which they were certainly looking forward to (ever since the Equestria Education Association rules had been lifted from service, the teaching and learning had become a lot more fun, although EEA officials had repeatedly visited the pond to try and retrieve the rulebook, or else charge Starlight Glimmer with destruction of Federal property). Little did they realise, they would soon find themselves thrown into a battle that would determine the fate of their country.

Author's Note:

In entomology, ommatidia are the units that make up an insect's eye, and aristate is a type of insect antenna.