• Published 3rd Sep 2021
  • 374 Views, 52 Comments

Kindness and the Fate of Shadow - Raven-Flight

An old threat is back, leading Fluttershy and Discord to confront their plans for the future. They've each been keeping secrets...

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To the Unknown

Sombra gazed down at the thick packet of papers that had just thudded onto his desk. “What’s this?”

“Your first friendship assessment will be soon, and if you impress us, you might have a little more freedom coming your way. This is a packet of study materials I’ve prepared for your benefit.”

“‘Packet’? Princess Twilight, this is a book! How will I get through all this material in time?”

“Oh, don’t worry; you’ll have a full few days to concentrate on it. All of your friendship tutors and I are going on a little trip, so you won’t be bothered with any new lessons until we get back. And don’t get any unfriendly ideas, Sombra,” Twilight added when she saw the gleam in his eye. “You’ll be kept under even closer guard while we’re away. Celestia and Luna will also be here, watching the kingdom and making sure absolutely everything is in perfect order at all times.”

“Do you doubt me, then?”

“Yes—not that I want to. I just hear such conflicting estimations of your trustworthiness that it’s hard to be sure. But I have every confidence you’ll set the record straight for us upon your assessment. In the meantime, study up. See you again at the end of this week.”

With that, the princess departed. Sombra remained staring at his review “packet” a while longer, before finally shoving it unceremoniously to the floor and seating himself at the desk. He snickered. “Left to my own devices for a few days, hmm?” The disabled magic dampener levitated off Sombra’s horn. “With that kind of time, I won’t need to worry about passing your little test to get my freedom back, silly pony!” He shut his eyes, concentrating, and a purple aura encased his unburdened horn.

The foals were bawling, and Spike’s efforts to cheer them were ignored.

“Can’t we go too?” wailed Corey.

“Daddy! Mommy! Don’t leave us!”

Upon Fio’s desperate plea, Fluttershy broke from her group of friends and trotted over to comfort her sons one last time.

“I’m sorry, my flowers. We have important grown-up business to do. I promise Daddy and I will tell you all about it when you’re old enough to understand.”

Their tears only redoubled.

"You’ll be alright. Mommy and Daddy will be back before you know it. Uncle Spike will make sure you have lots of fun while we’re gone.”

“Yeah,” piped the dragon. “I’ve got some awesome, secret stuff planned for us!”

That got the twins’ attention. “What, what?”

Spike chuckled. “I can’t tell you until after they all leave, or it’ll spoil the secret!” He lowered his voice to a mock-whisper. “If your parents found out what it is, they might not let us do it!”

Fio’s eyes grew very wide, and then his horn glowed gold. Fluttershy felt a tug trying to separate her from the ground. “Go away, Mommy,” Fio urged.

Then Fluttershy was surrounded by gold and pink. “Yeah,” added Corey, “go away!”

Her talented foals had just about managed to get Fluttershy in the air when she opened her wings and made to fly back toward her friends. “Alright, alright! See you soon, my flowers!” To Spike, she added a quick “thanks again” and flew off.

“...No way, I could totally handle it,” Rainbow Dash was boasting. “I’m the fastest pony alive, you know!”

“While that might be true,” returned Discord, “speed has no meaning in the vastness where we’re going. And even if it did, keeping up with me isn’t even your main concern. You’ve got to have the right sanity—”

Whaddaya mean, I’m perfectly sane!”

"And that’s your problem! If you went out there perfectly sane, you certainly wouldn’t be when you came back!”

Fluttershy stepped in before her friend could come up with another excuse. “It’s okay, Rainbow, the pocket dimension’s really quite nice. You won’t feel confined at all!”

Now Rainbow Dash turned on her. “But he said if I fly too far in there, I’ll just loop back around! Can’t you see how boring it would be to fly over the same patch of ground over and over and over again?”

“I think you mean fun!” Pinkie Pie bounced over. “I bet if you can go around fast enough, it’ll look like the rest of us are moving in slow motion! Wouldn’t that be hilarious?”

As Rainbow Dash considered this idea, Applejack and Rarity approached Discord. “So how long do ya reckon this journey’ll take?”

“I can’t really answer that. You see, time doesn’t exist at all in the inter-dimensional plane, but it will exist inside the pocket dimension you’re riding in. But then again, the passage of time within the pocket dimension doesn’t necessarily match the passage of time outside it anyway, and… Well, suffice it to say, as mortals with brains not equipped to deal with paradoxes of space-time, you’d do best just not to think about it.”

In the absence of a fainting couch, Rarity leaned dramatically back onto the solid form of Applejack. “Trust me, after as incomprehensible an explanation as that, I’m not convinced I’ll be doing any thinking at all in there!”

Discord guffawed in delight, then pulled Fluttershy in close to his side as Twilight, Celestia, and Luna finally concluded their conference.

“I think we’re all set,” grinned Twilight, “Let’s go meet the draconequui!”

“Alright, ladies and, well, ladies! Your ride is departing soon! Please remember to keep all limbs inside the pocket dimension at all times, and be sure to secure all loose shreds of sanity before departure. In the event of an emergency, there are no exits, so just give me your biggest shout! All aboard!” Six ponies vanished upon Discord’s snap, and he launched himself straight up with a tremendous WHOOSH that left ripples in the sky.

Fluttershy, Twilight, Rarity, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash all found themselves sitting on a raft upon a perfectly calm sea that stretched infinitely in every direction. It was quite dark, though the ponies could see each other just fine, and stars as colorful as gemstones twinkled above and, in the reflection on the still waters, below them.

It took about four seconds for Rainbow Dash to throw her head back in frustration. “Ugh, this is so boring! How long did he say this was going to take, again?”

“He didn’t, remember? He said not to even think about it.” Rarity then turned around to dip the tip of a hoof into the water. “Why, it’s not even cold!”

Applejack had turned too and watched the reflected stars dance in the disturbance of the water. “Welp,” she declared, “I know what I’m doin’ while we’re stuck in here!” She set aside her hat and launched herself up and out, landing in the sea with a tremendous splash that sprayed everypony onboard the raft.

Applejack, you’ve drenched my poor mane!”

“Aww, that’s too bad. I guess if you’re already wet, ya might as well come join me for a swim!”

Rarity crossed her hooves with a “hmph,” but Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie were quick to join their friend in the water. By the time their splashes had finished coming down, the remaining three on the raft were so soaked that there really was no point in staying onboard, so they slipped in too.

“Hey, guys, look!” To the shock of everypony else treading water, Pinkie Pie was standing on the surface as if it were solid ground.

Rainbow Dash swam over and tried, unsuccessfully, to pull her back down. “How’re you doing that?”

“I don’t know! I just thought: ‘Hmm, I wonder how buoyant the water is,’ and I floated allllll the way up!”

Immediately, Rainbow Dash and Twilight also floated up until they were standing upon the water.

“What? How is this possible?” Twilight shouted.

“Wow, if that worked, I wonder if the opposite is true too!” Rainbow Dash leaped up, then dove straight down into the water. Pinkie Pie followed suit, and the others watched the pair sink down, down, down into the clear water.

Then Pinkie Pie floated back up to the surface. “Ohmygosh, guys! It’s like it’s not even water! You can breathe in it!” And she dove back down to chase Rainbow Dash, who had all but disappeared in the depths.

“I ain’t doin’ that.”

Rarity shook her head in agreement with Applejack, and Twilight looked conflicted. Fluttershy, however, trusting in Discord’s creative powers, dove down to try it out. After some time had passed and Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Rainbow Dash could still be seen swirling around below without having come up for a breath, the remaining mares gave in. The six swam around together like a shoal of fish, and even Rainbow Dash found herself having fun. Eventually, exhaustion overcame Fluttershy, and she led the way back up to the raft to rest.

“Well, this has been unexpectedly lovely,” mused Rarity as she wrung out her mane.

“Yeah,” agreed Twilight, “though I still don’t understand how any of that was possible.”

Fluttershy smiled. “Remember, this pocket dimension isn’t bound to the laws of the world you and I are used to. It’s made entirely of chaos magic.”

“Oh, of course!” Rarity exclaimed. “That’s why it’s impossibly beautiful. Applejack, you remember what he was saying about chaos and beauty, don’t you?”

“Yeah. ‘My capacity for beauty is as much a part of me as chaos,’ he said. I still don’t get what he meant by that.”

“Discord talked about beauty and chaos with you guys too?” asked Fluttershy, looking up from her preening.

“Yes, he did. I had asked him about it after he...” Rarity looked at Applejack, who shrugged. “After he set up our first date.”

There was a great chorus of “WHAT?” followed by incoherent stammering from Pinkie Pie.

“You—I—y—I mean… You mean—You mean you’ve been a couple all this time, AND YOU DIDN’T LET ME THROW YOU A PARTY?”

“Terribly sorry, Pinkie dear! We didn’t want to say anything until we were quite sure of ourselves, and, well, it took us a while to get there.”

“A long while,” Applejack added, scratching the back of her neck.

“Does anypony ELSE have secrets I should know about?” wailed Pinkie Pie. “Rainbow?”

“Ah, heh, not me, Pinkie. I haven’t exactly found anypony worth taking on a second date yet.”

“Whyever not, darling? Sometimes the spark doesn’t come right away. Aren’t you curious to know what it’s like?”

“Not really,” Rainbow Dash shrugged. “I mean, I’ve got an awesome job and even more awesome friends. I don’t really see what a special somepony could add to the situation.”

Fluttershy nodded. “That makes sense. As long as you’re happy, we’re happy for you! What about you, Twilight? Ancreature catching your eye these days?”

Twilight flinched. “Uh—”

Just then, a voice boomed from the sky. “Alright, ponies, we’re here! Are you all ready to meet my people?”