• Published 7th Feb 2013
  • 6,674 Views, 286 Comments

Brand New Dusk - AlphatheGriffin17

Book II. Returning once more with new determination, new goals and a new hat, Dusk is ready to see what the magic of friendship can offer... and perhaps much more.

  • ...

New Look

"Spike, are you ready?" Twilight asked the baby dragon.

"Ready and waiting," he replied, holding some parchment and a quill.

"Dusk, ready to go?" she asked her second assistant and new best friend, who stood in the centre of the room.

The pony in question was standing by the lights to turn them off. His dark-blue fur could probably ensure that, if it was dark, he would be almost impossible to see. His mane and hair were a chestnut brown, parted to the right a little bit and just a tiny bit scruffy. His green eyes seem to shine with a new-found happiness, his sharp horn glowing as he switched off the lights, plunging them into near darkness

"What he said," he replied, with a smile before he shut them off.

"Excellent. The machine is ready, the lights are off... whenever you're ready," she told him brightly.

They were currently in the library basement, about to try out a new experiment. As Twilight had said, she had resolved to learn more about Dusk's special ability, starting with brightness levels in conjunction to the size of the shapes he made, getting precise readings from the light-sensitive machine she was using. She had prepared a table of different sizes for his shapes to take, so they were ready.

Twilight looked up from her console, to see the shape of her friend in the darkness. He had certainly changed from the pony he had been when she first met him. He could still be a little unconfident and unsure of himself, but he was now a lot more open than he had been, more relaxed and friendly. It was like all he had needed was the chance to be a good friend, to show his true worth... she and her friends had given him that chance.

She thought of how happy he'd been, since they'd thrown him that party a week ago. Something had changed inside him, making him more open and good. He was always willing to help, to spend time with her and the others. His wonderful smile, the occasional joke he made, his pleasant attitude... it just brightened her day to see that.

"Twilight? Twilight, do you want me to start?"

She was snapped out of her thoughts by his voice. Why did she keep doing that, her thoughts drifting whenever he was around? She always found herself stealing glances at him, really enjoying his company. He was her friend, that was to be expected... and yet...

She brushed away those thoughts, returning to her instruments. Focus on the facts, Twilight, she thought to herself, focus on the facts.

"Just a sec..." A flick of her hoof brought the machine online. "Whenever you're ready, bring your first shape to fifteen centimeters in diameter."

A few seconds later, a small orb of white light shone against the dark as his magic began to work. The machine began to pick up readings from it.

"At fifteen centimeters, low-level brightness." She waited until Spike took that down. "Alright, increase to thirty."

At this there was a minor improvement, but not much. They got gradually brighter, with medium level brightness by the time they reached seventy-five in width. At average pony size, it was bordering on the fringes of medium and high level brightness. He wasn't wrong about them, that was for sure, but she wanted to see how big he could make them, how bright they could be.

Despite all of her years of study under Princess Celestia, never once in all of her research had she ever come across magic like this before. It seemed so simple, but she just couldn't find any record of it whatsoever. As such, she didn't have much to go on for these experiments, so she had to learn from scratch when it came to them. It was okay though, she liked to learn new things.

She, of course, didn't want to push him too much. He seemed to be coping just fine so far, but she did remember that he had said that it was more strenuous for him the brighter and bigger his shapes became. If he showed any signs of difficulty coping, she would stop it at once.

She was having to look away from how bright they were. Onto the next phase, she thought.

"Eye protection on." They all placed dark-tinted sunglasses over their eyes. "Increase to one-hundred and thirty-five."

Now, they were really getting bright, like floodlights at a hoofball game. At two-hundred and ten centimeters, even the sunglasses were having trouble shielding their eyes from the brightness. Dusk too was beginning to show strains from the effort, his features in a grimace, his knees beginning to buckle.

"Dusk, you can stop now!" she called out in worry.

"No... it's okay... I can...I..." It sounded like he was making an effort to get the words out.

"No, it's not okay. Stop now, I'm shutting down the machine."


"Dusk, please!" At first, it didn't seem like he was going to stop.

But then, rather reluctantly, he cancelled his spell, breathing a sigh of relief. Exhaling as well, Twilight turned off the device, whilst Spike turned the lights back on. She hurried up to him, as he was having difficulty standing.

Helping him back up the stairs, they walked back into the main part of the library, setting him down on a chair. By this time, however, Dusk had recovered most of his energy and could walk on his own again, though she still insisted he sit down.

"You rest for a bit," she instructed gently. "How did we do Spike?"

"We managed to make it to two-hundred and twenty-five centimeters, at high levels of brightness," he reported from the results. "Not bad for a first trial, I'd say."

"I agree." She turned back to Dusk, who looked rather forlorn. "See Dusk? You did great."

"I could have done better though... if I'd just held out a little longer," he said despairingly.

"Dusk, don't be like that. Everypony has their limits, so do you. There's no shame in that," she comforted. "I don't want you to push your limits, I don't want you getting hurt."

He looked up at her, smiling. "You know... I never thought I'd hear anypony talking about me like that."

It always made her a little sad, to hear what he used to think about himself, what he still thought about himself... Twilight was just glad that he had found her and her friends.

"Well, you are my best friend. Besides, how would I cope in the library without you helping out with Spike?" she joked.

"Indeed, how?" he chuckled. "Spike wouldn't be able to make his napping quota, if I wasn't doing most of his work for him.

"Hey! We both do our fair share," he yelled indignantly.

"It's fine Spike, we're just kidding." Twilight giggled at his bemused expression, before turning to Dusk again. "We might as well have a rest now. It's still winter holiday, so you don't have to stay, if you don't want..."

"I know, but I think I'll stick around for a bit anyway." He gazed around at all the shelves. "There's nowhere I feel more at peace, than in the presence of literature."

"I know just what you mean," she agreed, surprised at how glad she was that he would be staying for a bit. "I'm going to do some note-making, you can just read if you like..."

He was already pulling a book down from one of the shelves, as Twilight approached her work desk, pulled down a book on magic, got a piece of parchment and her quill and opened it to the first page.

They were in silence for a few minutes after that. Spike had proceeded to drift off to sleep, as was his custom. Twilight was busily making notes on spells she either intended to test out sometime, or spells that she already knew and to see if she could improve upon her skills in using them. Every now and again, she glanced up at her work to look at Dusk, who seemed to be grimacing at the book he was reading.

She had found herself doing that with increasing frequency. On occasion, she would look up at him to see how he was doing, she told herself. Then, she found her gaze lingering on him for a few minutes, before remembering where she was and returning to her work, her cheeks feeling a little hot.

Unable to stomach her curiosity, she wandered back over to Dusk, to see what was making him grimace so much.

"Hey Dusk, what are you reading?" She checked the cover, and felt her eyes widen. "Really, you're reading that?"

"I thought about... well... trying something new," he explained.

"But you said you'd never go near those books with a ten-foot stick," she reminded him. "You don't seem like you're enjoying it exactly."

"Oh Twilight, this is only the first few pages. I'm sure it'll get better as I..." He flicked ahead a little, then some more. Finally, he looked up. "You know what, you're right. I can't read this drivel."

Slamming it shut, he levitated it back up to its place in the Romance section, dusting off his hooves like they were contaminated.

"I've never wasted my time with those books," she said at once. "What's the point in staring googly-eyed at somepony who may not even return your feelings?"

"I don't know... some of them are okay, I guess. Anyway, I thought a book with your name in it might have something decent about it."

"Ugh, don't even get me started," she replied, rolling her eyes. "On another subject though, I have heard, from several others, that you've been trying new stuff quite a bit recently. Why is that?"

"Well..." He paused, searching for the right words. "Ever since I became friends with you girls, I just feel... different. Like, I want to try something different in order to express those feelings. As you say, I have tried some other things, to no avail. I thought that, today, I would do it a little more simply, indulge in a new book for example... but I don't think that's going to cut it..."

"I think I understand," she nodded. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

"Thanks for the offer but... I think I need to go elsewhere, to figure this out." With that, he stood up and crossed the room to the door. "See you later, Twi."

"Okay Dusk, good luck. Thanks for coming over, I'm really eager to try and understand this power of yours."

"No problem, anything to help." He gave one last smile, as he exited the library, leaving Twilight feeling a little disappointed that he had to leave so soon.

Dusk felt a little guilty, leaving Twilight like that. She understood of course, but that didn't stop him from feeling just a little regretful that he didn't ask for further asisstance. The likelihood, however, would be that she would advise him to consult a book and, for once in his life, he didn't think reading would be the solution to this predicament he was in.

Once Dusk was outside, his sharp mind began to go to work, the urge to do something differently with himself still very much present. He needed simplicity, but reading a new book wasn't going to do it, not quite.

He had gotten this feeling after the girls had thrown him that surprise party. For the first time in his life, he felt loved, cared for by ponies that weren't his parents... he had friends. He just felt different and he needed to do something to express that feeling. He still hadn't quite narrowed down what exactly, but he knew that he was close... but what was it?

Dusk was just meandering in any direction, lost in his thoughts. Perhaps recalling what he had done so far would help to specify what he needed to change about himself. He had decided to try something big first, something... daring. First, he had gone to Rainbow Dash.

As a pony who always put herself on the edge of danger, she seemed the logical choice to assume for a new aspect for him to try. Indeed, when he went to her, she did have an idea as to what to try, but Dusk hadn't exactly taken to it well...

"Rainbow, are you sure about this?" he asked his pegasus friend, from the wooden panel.

"Come on Dusky, have a little faith in me," she replied from the platform she was on. "You need something new, something extreme and nopony knows extreme like me."

Dusk looked down at the contraption he was on. It was a wooden catapult, one that she claimed to have used before in one of her flying practices. He stood on one end, to be launched into the sky by Rainbow, who would leap from the platform to provide the force needed to propel him skyward. From there, she had just asked him to trust her.

Dusk did trust her , and the physics of the device seemed in order but... he had a crash helmet and knee pads on... just in case.

"Okay then... ready and waiting then." He shut his eyes in anticipation, his stomach doing leaps and legs shaking a little.

"CANNONBALL!" That was all he heard before he felt his hooves leave the floor.

He snapped open his eyes, seeing clouds whizzing past him, a blue blur as he soared through sky, his mouth open in a scream. It felt like his stomach had just relocated to somewhere in his throat, the wind rushing in his ears. He dared to look down, see the ground approaching... come on Rainbow...

Something grabbed him by the waist and hoisted him back into the sky. The world suddenly started going round and round and round, Rainbow performing loop-the-loops as she held him in her hooves. He barely had time to register he was dizzy before she dropped him again.

Dusk screamed impossibly louder as he simply dropped like a stone. What had she done that for, was she trying to kill him? He felt the hooves grab him again, as he proceeded to be spun in a corkscrew manouver, being launched skyward once more.

As he smacked through clouds, his mane and fur becoming wet, Dusk only knew that he was never doing this again. How had he agreed to this? This was completely and utterly insane! He had time to register that she grabbed him again as he began to fall, zooming towards the ground.

They made it in seconds, as she released him, allowing him to skid across the dirt and come to a halt. His eyes were wide, his mouth still open in a silent scream, his organs still feeling like they were in several different places.

"Oh yeah! Was that extreme, or was that extreme?" She spun to look at him. "Dusk? Hey, Dusk, you okay? Dusk?"

Dusk still got shivers in his lower belly whenever he thought of that. He could see the appeal that Rainbow found in soaring through the air, the wind whipping through her mane as she outstripped everything else. But his place wasn't in the sky... he belonged on the ground.

After he had regained use of his higher functions, he came to the definitive conclusion that he wasn't exactly going to be a daredevil overnight just because he'd found some friends. Daring tricks like that weren't going to take to him, so he decided to tone it down a little more.

He came out of his thoughts to see where he was, only to see the gingerbread form of the Sugarcube Corner, a haven for all things sweet and sugary. That bought back another memory of his attempts to be different.

Deciding that Rainbow's ideas of new experiences were too death-defying for his tastes, Dusk had gone to somepony who would perhaps have a more safe idea. Pinkie Pie had, of course, been very enthusiastic to help him out and had an idea in a second, one that Dusk was certainly more comfortable with. Before he knew it, Dusk had an apron on and was with her in the kitchen of the bakery...

"Thanks for helping out with this, Pinkie," Dusk said, as the pink pony pulled out the necessary ingredients.

"No problemo Dusk," she replied brightly. "You wanna try something new, I bet you'll be a natural at making cupcakes."

"Maybe... it seems simple enough," he agreed.

"Are you kidding? It's easy peasy icing squeezy!" With that, without warning, she burst into song.

All you have to do is take a cup of flour, add it to the mix
Now just take a little something sweet, not sour, a bit of salt, just a pinch

Baking these treats is such a cinch, add a teaspoon of vanilla
Add a little more, and you count to four, and you never get your filla

Cupcakes - so sweet and tasty
Cupcakes - don't be too hasty
Cupcakes - cupcakes, cupcakes, CUPCAKES!

She still had a bright grin on her face when she finished, Dusk staring at her. In the end, he just laughed it off, turning to get started. She could be so random, but that was just part of what made her so great. Besides, she was right. How hard could it be?

He regretted those thoughts about half-an-hour later. It seemed to be that cooking wasn't exactly his forte, even with food apparantely as simple to make as cupcakes. He might have added too much flour in his own batch, too little salt, not enough icing or decorations. Pinkie tried to help, but he wanted to try this himself... even though he thought it might be wise to accept some asisstance.

By the time his botched attempt was brought out of the oven, it wasn't exactly a batch of cupcakes. Somehow, they had morphed together into a single, pastried mass of sugar and sweet. How had that even happened?

"Well... that was a complete fiasco..." he announced dejectedly.

"I dunno Dusk, let me see..." She sampled some on her hoof. "Mmmm, that's good! A single big cupcake. Hm, maybe a little too much salt though..."

"Yes... the salt," Dusk agreed unsurely, looking at the formless mass that was meant to be his cupcakes.

Hurriedly moving away from the bakery, Dusk lost himself once more in his thoughts. So, he was getting there, simplicity was definitely the route to go with to solve this problem... just nothing to do with a kitchen.

Dusk had considered going to Fluttershy, to see if there was anything to do with animals that he could help with. But then he got the feeling that animals weren't really part of this solution either, plus most of them were either hibernating in winter or had flown south. So, he discounted that.

As such today, when Twilight had called him to the library, he had decided to see if reading a new book was the solution, a series he'd never tried before. But, of course, that hadn't exactly gone down well either. Nothing extreme, nothing cooking and nothing to do with reading. If none of them, what? What did he need to do to get rid of this niggling feeling in his head?

He was so caught up in his frantic thoughts, that he wasn't really paying attention to where he was going. As such, he crashed headlong into somepony going in the opposite direction, sending them both falling into the snow.

"I say! Do watch where you're going, why don't you?" a well-spoken voice said irritably, before softening. "Oh Dusk, hello there."

"Hello, Rarity," he greeted the fashion pony, as they picked themselves up. "Sorry, I was miles away..."

"Oh, don't worry about it dear," she assured, dusting herself off. "Enjoying your winter holiday then?"

"I'm... keeping myself busy," he replied simply.

"Wonderful. Are you still okay to be hosting this little Hearth's Warming party at your home for us?"

"Of course!" he answered eagerly. "Like I told you, I want to repay you girls for that party you threw for me. It will be my first Hearth's Warming in Ponyville, and with friends at that, so I feel its an additional cause to celebrate."

"Well said, I am certainly looking forward to it." That made Dusk feel warm inside, despite the cold. "So, where are you off to now?"

"Nowhere really... I'm just thinking..."

"I can certainly see that. Why don't you tell me what's going on in your head? Perhaps I can assist in someway?"

"Well..." He stopped to think for a moment.

He considered keeping it to himself but... he had friends now, so he could tell her what was on his mind. After all, he already had with the some of the others. Who knows, perhaps she might present the ideal solution to his problem? So he did, with her listening intently, her brow furrowing in thought all the while. When he had finished, her face lit up in a bright smile.

"So... what do you think?" he asked her.

"Dusk," she said, still smiling, "you should have come to me straight away. I think I know just what you need to feel like a brand new pony: a brand new outfit! Come, to the Carousel Boutique!"

Before she could say anything, she grabbed his hoof and lead him off to her domain. Dusk didn't resist against her, mainly because he knew that, once Rarity had her mind set on fashion, there was no stopping her. He just hurried after her, arriving at the Boutique in mere seconds.

Ushering him in quickly, she hurried behind her counter and brought out a large collection of clothes for stallions, of different styles and varieties. Well... he'd tried everything else he could think of.

"Right, let me see..." She rifled through the coloured fabrics, then settled on one. "Try this one on first."

Dusk sighed and climbed into the outfit, a dark suit with white undershirt and red tie.

"Hm, too smart." Next was a cowpony's outfit. "Too western." Some clothes from Prance. "Too frilly." One that looked like a castle courtier. "Too medieval." Some kind of red tunic with a triangle symbol on it. "Too geeky."

He tried on what felt like a dozen suits and clothes, though it was probably even more than that. While he did feel they were on the right track, both he and Rarity felt that none of these clothes suited him.

"Oh it's no use," Rarity exclaimed. "I've tried every suit for a stallion that I have, but none of them really do much for you Dusk."

"I think we're getting there. Maybe..." He thought for a few seconds. "Maybe... I don't need a whole new wardrobe or set of clothes..."

"Yes, yes... perhaps just something simple. A new accessory, maybe... let's see, you can't wear jewellry, I don't think shoes will do... I know, perhaps a new hat! Wait here, I have quite a collection..."

She arrived back in five minutes, with what looked like hundreds of hat boxes. Dusk just hoped her intuition wasn't incorrect, but he had no reason to doubt Rarity when it came to fashion. After all, she did own the shop.

"Now, let's try this again." She began opening hat boxes one by one.

Letting her levitate them to his head, Dusk checked his reflection. He and Rarity decided that he didn't suit a tri-corner hat, a stetson (Applejack already had one, after all), a flat cap, top hat, a straw boater... none of them seemed to fit, until-

"Wait!" Rarity had stopped on one in particular. It was a black trilby hat, with a velvet black ribbon around the brim. "Hm... sharp, pronounced, not too flashy, relatively modest and looks quite dashing on you... why, this is perfect! Dusk, what do you think?"

He checked his reflection with the hat. It blended well with his dark fur colour, mane and tail. It did look rather good on him, as best he could judge. He'd seen pictures of these hats and he'd always kind of liked them. The only downside was that it covered his horn, but he could still use magic even with it on, so it wasn't a problem.

As he looked himself over, that niggling feeling was beginning to fade. This hat still showed it was him, but also expressed how different he was now. Nothing big or fancy, but it was there regardless. He gave his friend a satisfied smile.

"I think we have a winner," she sang happily. She raised her hoof when he reached for some money. "Don't even think about it, it's yours for free. It's only a hat and this was a favour for a friend.

"You... you're sure?"

"Quite sure darling. I'm glad that I could be of help."

Dusk gave another grateful smile. Well, she wasn't the Element of Generosity for nothing then. Giving her a farewell and a tip of his new hat, Dusk exited the Boutique as she waved him off, getting used to the feeling of it on his head.

He did like how the hat looked on him, simple yet it stood out. He wondered what other ponies would think of it, what his other friends might think of how it looked on him. He was just deciding who to go and find to show it to, when somepony found him first...

"Howdy there Dusk," he heard a familiar southern voice call. "Say, that's a ma'ghty fine piece-a headwear ya got there."

"Hey AJ," he greeted her, as she approached. "You er... you like it?"

"Sure do, it really suits ya. Really becomin', as Rarity ma'ght say," she said, tipping her own stetson to him.

"Thanks, Applejack," he replied, returning the gesture. "I just felt that I... needed to try something new. So... Rarity picked this out for me. I'm glad you like it. I just hope you don't think I'm competing with you, as you are the only other hat-wearer in our group."

"Don't worry, ah ain't exactly threatened, sugarcube," she laughed. "Well, ah gotta get goin', see ya around Dusk."

He tipped his hat again and trotted in the opposite direction, checking his reflection in a nearby window, glad that the feeling inside him was gone at last. Yep, he could probably get used to this...

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!