• Published 3rd Apr 2023
  • 2,170 Views, 177 Comments

A Change in Darkness - David Silver

Bat ponies were a convenient hiding place. Few knew of their true nature, if they even really existed, so he could pretend to be one and get few hard questions. A pity one princess knew more than most, and would not be casually brushed aside.

  • ...

11 - Facing the Source

Skyline was a soldier first. He rested, recovered, and got back to duty as was his duty. "You're off bomb duty."

He tensed, ears twitching. "What, sir?"

His captain shook his head. "Order from the top. You are not to be endangered."

"Not to be..." Skyline glanced across at the other soldiers. "I'm one of them, sir. I'll take on the same challenges any of them would! I know the risks, sir."

"If she gives an order, we follow it!" He calmed his fluffed up fur. "I know you're upset. I even know why... But she commanded it. We are here for her. You know that."

"Right..." Skyline sank back, frowning. "Then what am I doing?"

"Have no fear. There's plenty to be done." There were piles of administrative tasks to be done, that had no risks other than paper cuts or insanity.

"Waste of my talent." Skyline stormed through the gloomy hallways. It was late in the evening. Most day-oriented ponies were quite asleep. But the night guard wasn't, nor was their mistress. "I work the angles. I figure the momentum..." Calculating taxes wasn't quite the same...

There was exactly one pony that could put it all right again. He'd walked those halls, though they had been less empty that other time. He'd come closer to day hours, so day ponies were about more often. "This is your idea," he grumbled as he went, scowling on his way. "You want my favor..."

There was her door, with two night guards standing resolute watch over it. "Hey." He knew them, they knew him. No strangers there. "Is she in?"

They inclined their heads in opposite directions. A mare and a stallion, both with tufted ears and fuzzy wings. The mare shook her head. "She's in and on dream patrol. You should know that."

That made sense... It was late enough in the night she'd have started that... "I need to talk to her."

"Too bad." The mare snorted at the idea. "We are not allowed to permit that while she's on patrol. Keeping her safe during this time is our most basic function, all else be forgot."

Skyline sighed hard enough he deflated. "She wants to talk to me."

The stallion raised a wing at Skyline. "What was your name?"

"Skyline." Skyline adopted a rigid pose of order. "Did she mention me?"

"Nope." The stallion waved Skyline off. "Come back when she's awake."

Skyline took a step back. "But..." They weren't moving, set in their task. He wouldn't budge either, if he were in their place. "Alright..." He turned and trotted back to the main hallways. "There's more than one way..." He headed outside and took flight. "I should report this, if it works."

Sure, he had plans and schemes, but he was still a soldier! He spread his wings and jumped into the air, taking flight into the sky that grew dark quickly as he left the light sources of the palace. He banked around and orbited the stone walls along the outside. "And you should be about... here." He had to work from where he had been, inside. That wasn't as easy as it might sound. He'd never seen the walls outside that part of things. "This should... be it."

He came up on the large window there and clung to the wall beside it. There was only one way to be sure that he knew. He leaned in and had a peek. It was dark. His eyes widened to take in more of what little light there was, bringing a gloomy and largely uncolored vision to things. There was a large bed, and in it, a lump. A big lump. A royal lump.

He'd have to report that working...

He was proving the guards in front weren't doing their job, and he felt bad for that part. Still, better that such flaws were found and fixed before something actually bad happened. At least he wasn't there to hurt Princess Luna. "Just talk." He grabbed the window and opened it. At least, that was the idea.

The window rattled lightly, but was firmly closed, and locked. "Too easy..." He pressed and felt along the edges of that window, searching for a weak point. He didn't want to break it! That window belonged to Luna. He was to guard her things, not be the one smashing them. The defense had still broken. Any real enemy could break that window. But he wasn't that. He had to figure some other way in, and the window wasn't giving up so easily.

With a flick, he drew out a thin and long bit of metal. "Didn't think this'd really come in handy." How to pick a lock had come up. Why? He still wasn't sure of that, but it had been insisted they had to know it. He slid the wire into the seam of the window and wriggles it about, holding it with his wing joints with a stuck out tongue. He had to find the latch, and only by sound. He could hear the pin jiggling and jostling in there, but there was nothing else to work off of.

In the night's dark, he was nothing but the jostling of metal on metal. He had no cover but the little nook against the window itself. The wind blew across him in cold gusts, and he had nothing to protect against that. It was at that rare moment he regretted not wearing the proper armor. He turned the wire at a new angle, trying to... It bumped against something new. He felt around it with the rattling of thin metal. "Yes..."

He wedged it in there and pulled, just for the whole wire to bend sharply, not stiff enough to push against the latch. "Blast..." He tucked the wire away and looked around for something, anything, that could serve better at the job. The windowsill was clean and empty.

He had nothing... Nothing but himself. "Dummy." Himself wasn't nothing. Himself was everything! With a flash of fire, he extended his hoof into a thick wedge at the end, shoving into the place. With a rough yank, he pushed the latch out of the way, opening the window, and falling into the room awkwardly..

Luna sat up with a gasp into the dark room. "Who is it?!" She glared into the dark, but it was living up to its name. "Come where I can see you."

"Ma'am." Skyline picked himself up, shaking his hoof back to normal. "Sorry to bother you."

"Skyline?" Her horn glowed as she willed several lanterns to glow, allowing vision in the room. "There you are. What are you doing here? I didn't call for you."

"No, you didn't." He took the time to close the window behind him. "Sorry, ma'am. This is about the bat pony foal idea."

"You have my attention." She waved him closer, showing no anger at his presence. "Did you decide to do it?"

"No, I had thoughts. I wanted to talk to you." He turned from the window. "If that's alright?"

"We're already talking." Luna stepped down from her bed. "I didn't expect to wake to you."

"Sorry..." But how to avoid that, he couldn't think of right away. "Ma'am, let's get to the point. To start, your guards can be made more effective and happier."

Luna's brows went up together. "Both, at once? Easily?"

"Maybe?" With a flash, he was wearing the proper armor. "I don't know how easy it is to adjust these."

"What does that have to do with it?" She prowled forward at him. "And how does this relate to the bat pony situation?"

"I'm getting to it, ma'am." Skyline sat on his haunches, not retreating or advancing on her. "Your guards want to be themselves. The unicorns want their magic. The earth ponies want to be stout. There's no reason bat ponies can't have either thing. We decide that. We're deciding that right now, ma'am."

"Deciding that..." Luna trailed off, absorbing the idea. "I see... There's more to it."

"Of course, ma'am. I had a feeling there was." He spread his leathery wings. "May I know?"

"You may." She reached out and trailed a hoof along some unseen line along Skyline's form. "Ponies, unlike changelings, have specific lines of magic. The armor adjusts those lines, but the lines remain. If they went in too many directions, the pony would pass out... or worse. An alicorn--" She directed a hoof at herself. "--is the epitome of such engineering, and quite complicated at that. Even then! We do not typically bring all three tribal lines to bear at the same time."

Skyline frowned with the new thoughts and new angles. "So a bat pony with a horn..."

"Would have difficulties." Luna nodded slowly. "Especially if they tried to use magic while flying. Think of... this like blood. A pony has so much blood. You want more places for that same blood to flow. That is a problem." She brought her hooves together. "We don't want night guards collapsing from the air mid-assignment."

Skyline turned a wing on himself. "Why can I do it?"

"You're not a pony." Luna shrugged at that. "You don't play by our rules. For better or worse. You can do things we can't. We do things you cannot. Different creatures, but getting along, in this case." She reached a wing for him, brushing his side. "Different, but equally grand, hm?"

Skyline colored lightly and stopped thinking so hard, instead opening himself to feel for a moment.. Luna was pushing love at him. It wasn't as strong as Piercing had been. Luna was... loving what Skyline could mean, not Skyline, as a person, or an appearance, exacly. It was a different love. "For any foal we create to not live in misery, they need a family. To have a family, we need ponies that don't just put up with being what they are, but celebrate it." He coughed into a hoof. "What's a unicorn brought up thinking unicorns are odd? A miserable one, I imagine, ma'am."

"Hm." She paced about him in a circle. "Hm... That you're thinking about this, it pleases me." She sat down in front of Skyline. "You're really considering this."

"Of course." He lifted tufted ears at her. "That..." He came to a stop there, frowning. "Blast it... The pony parts are getting in the way."

"Pardon?" She looked him over. "I know you aren't a pony. What part of pony is getting in the way of what?"

Skyline turned a wing on one of his cutiemarks. "I'm working the angles, ma'am. Since I got this, it comes... naturally, and unasked for at times. That reminds me!"

Luna recoiled at the sudden loud shout. "What is it?"

"Ma'am?" The door cracked open. "Is everything alright, ma'am?"

Luna made gently soothing motions at the door. "Everything is fine." She turned her attention back to Skyline. "What has you upset?"

"How dare you, ma'am! You took away my duties." Skyline clopped a hoof at that. "I'm a soldier!"

"You may become something else." Luna curled a hoof to her chin. "You are the maybe-mother of an entire tribe. I can't risk you being harmed. You work the angles, you know which one I'm coming from, Skyline."

That he did brought no comfort. "Hmmph... I don't... I'm not a broodling!" He reached to rub over his belly. "Sadly for you, that wasn't my job, as a changeling. I was an infiltrator. The idea of sitting there and making it my job to make more is... That's not what I was raised to do."

Luna reached to join his hoof with hers. "Only for a little while, I promise, and even then only if you agree. Just to get us started... Then they can do it the old fashioned way."

"How?" Skyline stood up. "Ma'am, how? You have one batpony. One batpony doesn't make two. Even two bat ponies barely makes more, and not very well."

Author's Note:

Skyline gets yanked off active duty, and he doesn't like it at all! Boo!

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