• 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.

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22 - Growing Fast

With shared love, care, and effort, the patchwork family of the guards, both night and day, accepted the two little foals as their new charges and kept many eyes on the two.

This proved quickly harder than any of the guards had expected. Night Wind and Sure Arrow had lungs ready to inhale the world, and exhale its destruction. Little Arrow was especially likely to shake the walls themselves with powerful screeches that had ponies dashing for cover and valuable artwork sliding to the ground.

Learning to manage the two was made a priority. Bottles, nannies, and patience were the most effective means of ensuring a good night's sleep for the poor parents. Still, love, affection, and careful work yielded fruit. They calmed more and more as weeks passed into months.

Walking, babbling, and smiling, the two had secured the hearts of those they had tortured just shortly before. Those little noises grew in volume as Luna poked her head into the nursery. They knew her, and reached for her with warm greetings, as sensible as a foal could be at that age. "Lu-lu!" called out Sky Arrow.

Luna smiled at the two, but looked onwards to Skyline. "You have performed well. They are growing strong and well. Be proud." Her horn lit softly. "But I need to speak with you, outside."

Skyline blinked. "Right now?" She turned an ear towards the two playing. "They're happy like this."

But Night Wind, looking a bit peeved at his mother's distraction, shrieked it was time to play. The guards made haste to bring out the toys and trinkets to hold the two back from the upsetting noise.

Skyline gave a parting pat with one of her wings on the way out. "What's wrong, ma'am?"

Luna nodded. "Nothing, directly. Directly. You are doing very well. Two legends, brought to life." She took a slow breath, sides swelling a moment. "They exceed my expectations, such delightful things, and residents of the night, hm? Now--" She sat up fully. "They are advancing towards a point where they can live without you for short times."

Skyline's wings twitched in alarm. "Short?"

Luna nodded. "It will become time for you to return to work. But before that, you will need to work on your skills." She pinned an ear back swiftly. "I don't mean to press you directly into dangerous assignments. That would be a rude welcome back, and you are still their mother, working or not."

Skyline sat up. "I suppose... that makes sense. I'm not... I'm not sure." She frowned. "It feels like I'm abandoning them. Again."

Luna leaned in, bumping her head on Skyline's. "We will not allow that. All of both guards love them dearly. They have so many parents who would sooner toss themselves off a roof than see either of them harmed."

Skyline bobbed her head. "I know. I know. I just... I know, I understand, I do. I agree. I want to return to my duty, and I have two small bundles of chaos to raise. But I worry. How would I go about finding another mother? What if they forget me?"

Luna chuckled, a low noise that echoed as she rose smoothly. "Those two adore you enough to remember you for little absence. Just an hour or two, working towards longer. You deserve to live too, and you have a family. Lean on them a little."

Skyline sighed. "I know. I do know." She chuckled. "And thank you."

Luna shrugged. "You're not the only one to feel like this. Every mother feels it, I am told." It was not as if Luna had ever, though she rethought that. "Hm, no, I suppose I do. I want the world from those little ones, and will do whatever it takes to see it, which means raising them properly." She perked her ears with a sudden new thought. "Have either begun showing any talents we should be aware of?"

Skyline blinked, surprised by the abrupt question. "Oh! Um... neither have horns, if that's what you mean, not a glimmer. And I haven't seen any magic at all." She tapped a hoof on her chin. "Two perfectly standard bat ponies, as standard as they can be, being the only two true bat ponies in the world."

Luna chuckled. "What a curious pair indeed." She glanced back at the doorway. "I could not ask for better guardians." Then she turned her head back to Skyline. "Go in. The time is almost past. Back to work with you soon. Prepare." She smiled. "You will do fine. Your family is behind you."

Skyline grinned, bowing her head. "It is a curious feeling, ma'am." She rubbed gently along her side. "I want some male time." She shook her body, wings spreading to balance herself as the shaking hit its zenith, fur fluffed. "I don't regret being a female, a mother especially, but I miss boy-me."

"You should figure out what you like." Luna stretched herself up high. "When you get time." She smiled gently, turning back towards the castle proper. "Bond. Enjoy them while you can. We will return you to work, then we will return you to yourself. You deserve both."

Skyline walked back in to see Night Wind and Sure Arrow rushing over with joy in their eyes. "Momma! Momma! Momma!" The pair hopped onto their back legs, pressing their front hooves against Skyline. Skyline forgot the complaints she had just spoken. With the two little darlings clutching to her, she felt like she was in a fine place, as the perfect thing. She gathered both up firmly with a pleased noise of her own, the three bats purring at one another. "I'm sorry I made you wait for me. Auntie Lu-Lu just needed to talk to me."

Night Wind cooed out, "Talk? About what?"

Skyline stroked the boy's face. "Work. I think I'm going to start getting back into work soon."

The two tilted their heads, expressions of confusion on both.

Skyline nuzzled either gently. "Most ponies work, to help the world around them, contributing in their different ways. And there are so many ways." She spread her wings. "Mama is a guard! Strong and fierce." She flashed her sharp teeth, cuddling them warmly. "I protect you from all the big scary monsters in the night. And sometimes in the day."

The two gave a delighted gasp at the mention of 'guard.' "You're a guard? So cool!" Arrow clapped her hooves. "They play with us a lot. Will you play with foals too?"

Skyline giggled, rubbing the two. "They may be a little rough with me for a few minutes. I need to get back into fighting shape, so they'll practice with me." She snuggled the two gently. "No foal playing, not while I'm working. I'll have to come home and pounce you two to get my foal snuggles in."

Arrow sat down hard with a pout. "Aw, but... But..." She looked sad. "But I want to play!" She folded her ears down. "They play tag with us a lot!"

Skyline tapped at her cheek with a thought. "Hm. It's time you two met other little ponies your age. You need friends who aren't all adults." She touched noses with Arrow. "Doesn't that sound fun?"

The two peered at one another, and then nodded, wiggling excitedly.

Skyline chuckled. "You may be the first bat ponies ever to be in preschool." She laughed a little harder at that. "Even if it'll be more military than usual." She nodded to herself, imagining the guards with all their little foals. "It'll be fun." And adorable. She kept that part to herself. "I'll talk to your uncles and aunts tomorrow."

***

The next day, Skyline marched through the castle with a foal attached to either side of her barrel. Ponies smiled as she passed. Some waved, others said hello. All of them seemed happy to see her, or the foals. Perhaps both? She couldn't be entirely sure, but the love was strong.

With them, she walked into the barracks. The guards there sat up sharply, some of them wearing their bat pony armor, others appearing as their normal selves. Skyline nodded at them all. "Hello, good to see you all." With her wings, she gathered her young and set them down. "These two are ready to make friends. Some of you have little ones around their age. I propose we have play days, where they can all meet and play."

One of the mothers, a unicorn, leaned over the edge of the bench, smiling warmly at Skyline and the two young bat ponies. "Of course. We should also give them a chance to shift. I imagine it'd be confusing to only ever see bat ponies."

Skyline nodded. "That's part of what I want to do as well." She put a hoof up, speaking clearly to the children. "Which of you wish to be a pony right now, like mama is?"

The two looked confused at the question. Sure Arrow pointed at herself. "I am a bat pony." Swift Wind nodded with firm agreement.

Skyline erupted in brief flames, soon wearing her proper night guard armor, glinting with dark steel. "I mean a bat pony who is also a guard, steward of the night, loyal of Princess Luna." She leaned in closer. "Auntie Lu-Lu."

The two seemed a little scared by that, but it passed swiftly. Sure Arrow swallowed. "O-oh..."

Skyline lowered herself to the floor. "Oh? Something wrong?" She got a little lower still, inviting touch. She accepted both into her waiting arms. "I wasn't trying to be scary." She considered that. "A little scary. But not a bad kind, not to you two."

Sure Arrow gave her a squeeze, burying her face against Skyline. "I just wanna play! Why be a guard if it's just gonna be like... learning?"

Skyline could feel the rumble of voices of the other guards, the women particularly. She laughed musically, shaking off the thick atmosphere. "I'm getting ahead of myself. You two are foals. Having fun is the point right now." She tapped either on the head. "So, will we have other foals here soon to play with?"

The two looked at each other, and then nodded.

Skyline turned a sly eye to the other guards. "Soon, yes?"

A collection of chuckles went up. The guard with foal, or foals, gave a wink as conversation picked up, turning to planning those play days.

But the foal in Skyline's care seemed to find the armored equines rather intimidating, shying away to hide in Skyline's embrace. The little colt, Night Wind, whimpered pitiably while his sister watched anxiously. Skyline buried her snout against him, nuzzling softly. "I'm still mama, wearing the armor or not. I love you, and so do they. You've met them before."

"And they're so big..." He started to tear up.

Skyline rolled him onto his back, rubbing gently at his belly and making him laugh. "There are so many different types of ponies too! See? Unicorns." She tickled under his chin, which had him squirming with more giggles. "Pegasi." She rubbed at his neck and jaw, all the way to his withers. "And two cute little bat ponies." She nipped at his belly, making him jump with a joyous squeal, fighting her off with a smile.

Skyline pulled him in, snuggling him gently. "They love you two, and you'll love them." She looked into his eyes. "I know you will." She gave him a little squeeze. "Now let's go home." With a new flare of green flames, Skyline was back to being without her armor, scooping up her foals to get them in her saddlebags. "You two will have so much fun. The hard part will be picking which new friend you want to play with first."

She set them down once they were safely home, and set out a meal for them, but only one for herself. The foals ate without fuss, happy and calm once more. Once they were full, she saw them curled up for a nap. "I will do my job." Her job was to be a mother. That felt a bit odd to have, as a job, but it was hers for the moment. She nuzzled each napping foal. "Gladly."

Author's Note:

They are growing swiftly, and it's time to make some friends. Celestia would be proud.

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