• Published 9th Sep 2012
  • 14,773 Views, 616 Comments

Flipside - Bed Head

A retelling of the first two episodes in an Alt. Universe. Spike is the pony, Twilight the dragon.

  • ...

Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Canterlot, being the home to Equestria's ruling class, tended to see a steady influx of visitors. While most were content with the train there was no denying that airships were popular among some. As such, the landing docks overlooking the valley below were always kept ready to receive dignitaries from near and far.

It was there that Shining Armor was waiting, watching as one of the royal airships approached. He gave his helmet one last adjustment and pulled himself to attention. The ship would be docking within seconds and his orders from Celestia were clear.

The ship pulled up and mooring ropes were lashed in place. A gangplank was lowered, and Shining stepped up to the end of it.

"On behalf of Princess Celestia and the Royal Guard," he said in a practiced, even tone. "It's my pleasure to—"

"Shiny?" a voice gasped from the ship.

The armored stallion found his voice halting in his throat. Disembarking from the airship was an elegant pink mare. An alicorn mare with the same look of familiar shock on her face as Shining Armor.

"Cadence?!" he gasped out, before his face split into a wide grin.

Before he could make a move the mare had charged up to him. She pressed up against him, one of her forelegs wrapping around his back.

"I don't believe it!" she said, releasing the friendly embrace and stepping back. "It's been so long!"

"I know what you mean," Shining agreed, thankful that his helmet was hiding his blushing cheeks. "I haven't seen you since you used to foal-sit your cousin up at the castle!"

"You still remember how we used to talk between your training sessions?" she asked with a reminiscent tone. "Now look at you. Shining Armor, Captain of the Guards!"

"Well, yeah..." the stallion rubbed at the back of his head. "Oh right, kinda have a job to do too."

He cleared his throat, trying to ignore Cadence as she giggled. The mare had a hoof over her mouth, but waved for him to continue.

"Princess Celestia, unfortunately, can't greet you in person," he reported, trying to sound official even with the smile cracking through. "She requested that I, as Captain of the Royal Guard, escort you to the castle."

There was silence between the two of them. The pair of baggage handlers quickly resumed carrying their loads before they were caught eavesdropping.

"Have fun with that?" Cadence asked.

The both of them burst out laughing, Shining actually wiping a tear from his eye.

"It's great seeing you again," he said, gesturing toward an awaiting stage coach. "I guess Princess Celestia really wanted to surprise the both of us."

"I'd say it worked," Cadence responded as she started toward it. "Oh Shining, you've got to tell me what you've been up to!"

"There'll be plenty of time for that," Shining Armor responded as his magic flipped open the door to the coach. "Actually I..."

He trailed off, his cheeks burning so hot he was sure Cadence would notice them. The alicorn looked concerned, her purple and yellow mane bobbing a bit as she leaned closer.

"Yes?" she asked.

"I just... well Celestia wanted me to keep an eye on you until she returned after the sun rise," Shining Armor explained before taking a nervous swallow and continuing. "So I just had the idea of maybe attending the celebration together? I'm off-duty at sunset."

"Shiny..." Cadence's voice was barely a whisper as she stopped at the entrance of the coach.

The stallion tried to stay composed but his shuffling fore-hooves were a dead give away. Much to his surprise, Cadence gently nuzzled his cheek in response.

"I'd love to," she said with a grin.

"You'd love—Great!" Shining Armor cleared his throat as the princess boarded the coach. "We'll just get you settled at the castle first. You must be tired after the trip."

"On the way, I want to hear everything," Cadence said as Shining attached his harness and started down the street. "How has your family been?"

"Great, they're all great," Shining said with a chuckle. "Spike's reporting for the Canterlot Sun now and my parents... well you'll get to see them tonight..."

Shining Armor and Cadence were so involved in their conversation neither of them bothered to look up. Celestia smiled down from her pegasus-pulled chariot as she watched her niece being escorted to the castle. It was quite clear that her niece had thrown out any thoughts of heading to Ponyville.

The white alicorn turned her gaze forward again as her own escorts started down toward the valley. It wouldn't be a very long trip by air. She'd still have enough time to enjoy the view of Canterlot and the mountains in the sunlight.

"Commander Aquilinus?" she asked, raising her voice to be heard over the wind. "Feel free to take the scenic route. We're ahead of schedule anyway."

Spike's head jerked in a sudden sneeze.

"Oooh," Dinky said with a giggle from her mother's back. "Looks like somepony is talking about you!"

"I hope it's not Twilight," Spike sniffled as he started walking again.

The trip back to town seemed shorter than the one out. He was already passing buildings he recognized and could see the Town Hall in the distance. Ditzy's wings were flapping hard as she kept pace overhead, Dinky clinging to her back.

"Are you sure she's gonna be okay?" Ditzy asked, drawing the stallion's eyes back up to her. "I've never seen anypony... or animal... or anything get so nervous around Fluttershy!"

Spike could still picture his dragon assistant as Ditzy spoke. She'd probably be trembling under Fluttershy's kindly stare as the pegasus doted on her. He honestly wasn't sure whether the thought of it was funny or kind of sad.

"Twi just gets a little antsy when ponies stare at her," Spike explained, shaking the image from his mind. "She'll be fine. It's not the first time she's handled an interview for me."

Spike saw the mailmare nod at him, but he didn't focus on her. His eyes had been drawn past her and the few clouds hanging above. He could see the sun, and it set alarms blaring in his head. It was already well into the afternoon position in the sky.

"Oh man, it's that late already?" Spike fretted as he picked up his pace. "I've gotta find that weather manager fast!"

"Hey, there's Time Turner! Maybe he can help," Ditzy's voice once more drew Spike away from his thoughts. "Hi Time Turner!"

"Hi Mr. Time Turner!" Dinky called out as well, waving one hoof.

Spike's gaze turned away from the sun. Standing out in the square in front of Town Hall was the earth pony he remembered from lunch. Time Turner seemed to be in the midst of glaring impatiently at the slightly cloudy sky. At Ditzy's greeting though his grim look changed to a smile.

"Ah, Miss Doo," he said as the trio approached. "Wonderful to see and your delightful daughter. And Mr. Prose, how is your article coming?"

"It's... coming," Spike admitted, eyes darting back to the sun for a second. "Say, have you—"

"Oooh, ooh!" Dinky suddenly interrupted, a big smile on her face. "Are the decorations in Town Hall done?"

"Dinky," Ditzy said softly, one hoof gently pressing against the filly's mouth. "You know it's rude to interrupt."

Spike was biting back the urge to curse in front of the filly. He took a deep breath, holding it in as she turned to him.

"I'm sorry Mr. Prose," Dinky said, her little eyes brimming with an apologetic look.

Spike released the breath and just waved one hoof. Dinky smiled, turning back to Time Turner who tousled her mane a bit.

"Well the decorations are done," Time Turner answered before he began pacing about. "Oh, and Big Macintosh got back with the rest of the food. He and Rarity should be arranging it right now."

"Wait, already?" Spike asked, his frustration losing to curiosity. "It hasn't been that long since you sent him back."

"It's because his family is in town, right?" Ditzy guessed.

"Right you are, Miss Doo," Time Turner said with a smile and a nod. "They've got a whole army of Apples preparing treats."

"Can we go help set up in Town Hall, mommy?" Dinky asked, bouncing in place. "Please please please? I wanna see the decorations Miss Rarity made!"

Ditzy gave Time Turner a big smile, who responded with a slightly nervous chuckle.

"I... well I guess it couldn't hurt if you two went in and looked," he admitted. "Just don't touch anything unless Rarity okays it."

Dinky was off like a shot, leaping from Ditzy's back and running off with a cheer.

"Thanks Time Turner!" Ditzy said, dashing off after the filly. "Dinky, wait for me!"

Spike watched the two of them dash off, his mind already picturing just what sort of mess might get made inside. Unfortunately he was having trouble finding the idea funny as a look up reminded him of his deadline.

"Apologies if I'm intruding," Time Turner spoke up as Spike turned back to him. "But if you're here then where's Twilight?"

"Oh, she's handling interviewing Fluttershy," Spike answered, glad to finally have an opening. "I came back here to talk to the weather manager for my article."

"Ah..." Time Turner bit down on his lip, his eyes darting back to the sky.

"Let me guess..." Spike sighed, rubbing his forehead as he felt a headache starting. "She's not available right now?"

"Actually, nopony has seen Miss Dash all day," Time Turner corrected as he waved a hoof to the clouds above. "She was supposed to be cleaning this up, but—"

"You have got to be kidding me!" Spike shouted, one hoof stomping on the ground.

The unicorn could hear the rush of blood in his ears as he unleashed his frustration. A clatter of hooves reminded him he wasn't alone, as Time Turner jumped back at the outburst. Spike bit down on his lip again, realizing what he'd just yelled.

"Whoa," a voice broke in before he could apologize. "Something wrong here?"

Both of the stallions looked up to be greeted by a dark-gray (almost black) pegasus stallion. His silvery-blue mohawk bounced with each flap of his wings as he hovered in place. Time Turner visibly relaxed and quickly cleared his throat.

"Nothing to concern yourself with, Thunderlane," he said, waving one hoof. "Glad you've finally arrived."

"Yeah, sorry I took so long," the pegasus apologized, jerking his head to the side. "Had to punt a few stray clouds over the forest. Just give me a few minutes to clear the rest of this up!"

The dark-coated pegasus set to work, swooping into the air and working the clouds with his hooves. Time Turner breathed a small sigh of relief and nodded his head.

"Uh..." Spike swallowed hard before stepping up behind the earth pony. "Sorry about that."

"Hmm?" Time Turner looked back and let slip a chuckle. "Ah, no worries. I can only imagine the time you've had trying to get somepony to talk to you today."

"You have no idea," Spike confirmed, Big Mac and Fluttershy flashing through his mind. "So, who's this guy?"

"Oh, Thunderlane?" Time Turner asked. "He's the only pony on the weather team that was willing to put in over time today."

The two watched as the pegasus obliterated one of the smaller clouds with a swift kick. There hadn't been many clouds around to start with, but Thunderlane had still cleared most of them surprisingly fast. He settled down on the smaller of the remaining puffs, hoof rubbing his chin as he looked up at the other one.

"That last one looks pretty big," Thunderlane called down to them, pointing to the cloud. "Think I've got room to bust it open?"

Spike looked curiously between the earth and pegasus ponies. Time Turner seemed to be mentally gauging the distance between the cloud and Town Hall before slowly nodding.

"Looks like you're good!" he called back before ushering Spike backward. "We should stand back a little."

"Why?" Spike asked as Thunderlane flew up and vanished into the large cloud. "What's he doing?"

"Thunderlane's specialty is handling storm clouds," Time Turner answered, pointing up at the now sparking mass. "So to break up large one he's learned to agitate them from within and... well you'll see soon enough."

The larger cloud was darkening and tiny electric bolts danced over its surface. The whole thing began to tremble before, with a final CRACK, it exploded in a thunder clap! Spike leapt ten feet straight up at the noise as a multi-colored blur shot straight up from the vaporized cloud.

Thunderlane came streaking from the flash, plowing through the cloud he'd landed on earlier. The much smaller cotton-puff burst as soon as he made contact. The stallion hit the ground, a broad smile on his face as the sun shone down from the now cloudless sky.

"How's it look?" he asked, a somewhat cocky tone to his voice.

"Well done, Thunderlane!" Time Turner congratulated, eyes scanning the sky. "Clear skies, perfect for watching the sun rise."

"That was awesome!" Spike gushed before he could stop himself. "Hey, how'd you make that rainbow-colored lightning bolt?"

"Rainbow-colored?" Thunderlane asked, looking back up. "I didn't—"

"THUNDERLANE!" a mare's voice shouted from high above.

"Uh oh." The named pony's wings snapped shut against his sides.

Down from the clear sky descended a cyan pegasus mare. Her striking mane and tail covering every color of the visible spectrum. Spike couldn't help but notice the similarity between her cutie mark and Thunderlane's. The only difference was the lightning bolt coming from her cloud was three different colors.

"What's the big idea?" the mare fumed, eyes locked on Thunderlane. "You almost fried me!"

"Sorry Dash!" Thunderlane apologized, backing a few steps away. "I didn't even know you were up there. Time Turner asked me to handle clearing the sky so—"

The blue pegasus pony's glare turned to the brown stallion at that remark. Time Turner inhaled sharply through his teeth as she rounded on him.

"Oh he did, huh?" she asked, jabbing the earth pony with one hoof. "Cloud cleaning was supposed to be my job today."

"Well Miss Rainbow Dash," Time Turner responded, pushing her hoof aside. "Perhaps if you'd been doing your job instead of goofing off I wouldn't have had to bother Thunderlane."

"I was not goofing off!" responded Rainbow Dash, crossing her forelegs in a huff. "I was napping."

Spike slowly backed away as the two began arguing. He couldn't make out the words, their voices raising trying to drown one another out. The reporter took a seat to watch the mess unfold, finding Thunderlane sitting next to him.

"This happen a lot?" Spike asked, watching the two.

"A little too much," Thunderlane answered with a shrug. "TT tries to keep the town running like clockwork, but Dash keeps her own schedule."

Spike just nodded as a few green sparks leapt from his horn. His quill and paper were soon floating next to him, setting themselves to recording the argument.

"So..." Thunderlane said, running a hoof over his own mane. "Just who are you again?"

"Huh? Oh!" Spike gasped as he rubbed his forehead. "Sorry, it's been a long day."

His magic levitated the press pass from his hat, hovering it in front of Thunderlane.

"I'm Purple Prose, from the Canterlot Sun," he introduced himself as the pegasus took the pass. "I was hoping to get an interview with Rainbow Dash about tomorrow morning's celebration but..."

The two looked back at the arguing duo. Rainbow Dash seemed to be getting more and more animated as she went on. In sharp contrast, Time Turner was seated and seemed to be straining to keep calm.

"... Yeah I don't see that happening," Thunderlane said as he returned the pass. "Yeesh, coming down today to try and question ponies? You probably could have planned that better."

"It was sort of last minute," Spike admitted, looking up at the sky. "Say, did you seriously clear the whole town on your own?"

"Fine!" Rainbow Dash's voice broke in before an answer could be spoken, her wings pumping as she flew off. "Guess I'll just go practice some since I'm not needed here!"

In a blur of colors the mare was gone. Time Turner's hoof massaged his temples as he squeezed his eyes shut.

"Oh dear, Mr. Prose!" he gasped, eyes snapping open. "I'm sorry, you wanted to speak with her didn't you?"

"I actually don't think it's gonna be a problem," Spike responded, nodding to Thunderlane. "I mean, Rainbow Dash didn't clear the whole town herself, did she?"

"No, I had to take care of that," Thunderlane answered, stretching his wings a bit. "Why? Is that important?"

"Only if you think getting interviewed for the most read newspaper in Equestria is important," Spike answered with a big grin as his quill and paper floated up next to him. "Credit where it's due, right?"

Thunderlane's eyes widened in surprise as he jumped back to his hooves.

"You're serious?" he asked, grinning. "That would be so cool—Oh wait, shoot!"

His hoof met his face and he shook his head. Spike could feel the urge to throw something start to rise again.

"I'm sorry, I can't," Thunderlane apologized. "I've gotta pick up my brother from the library and—"

"The library?" Spike cut in, his smile returning. "That's great! I'm meeting my partner there! We can talk on the way."

"Really?" Thunderlane asked, before nodding his head. "Well okay then!"

Spike was cheering inside his head, fireworks to rival the cloud explosion lighting up his thoughts. Finally he could see things beginning to turn around for him.

"Glad to see things are going your way," Time Turner said, patting Spike on the back. "Do you need any help finding the library?"

"No thanks," Spike answered with a shake of his head. "Ditzy took me past it earlier."

She'd shown it to him five times during the circuitous tour. Spike decided not to mention that part out loud. Time Turner just nodded in response, though a look of worry flashed through his eyes.

"Ah right," the earth pony said, looking back to Town Hall. "I'd best make sure everything is alright in there. Take care you two!"

The brown stallion dashed toward the building Ditzy and Dinky had entered. Spike let slip a little chuckle, his shoulders feeling a bit lighter.

"Well then," he said, turning back to Thunderlane. "Ready to go?"

"Sure," the pegasus answered as the two started moving. "So, where's this interview start?"

"Let's see." Spike's magic flipped to a fresh page as his quill moved on its own. "How about with what you'd been doing before Time Turner came to you for help?"

The two stallions continued on, Spike's quill dutifully recording everything. The unicorn allowed himself a slight distraction as Thunderlane spoke. He could see the top of the old oak tree that held the town's library. The unicorn smiled with anticipation at the thought of relating this little story to Twilight.