• Published 25th Feb 2013
  • 20,470 Views, 1,524 Comments

Winds of Change - Masterweaver

Rainbow Dash is a changeling. Who knew?

  • ...

Chapter Ten: Excavated Sorrows

Celestia stood to attention.

Twilight looked at her checklist.

Celestia stood to attention once more.

Twilight took a breath, opened her mouth.... and looked at her checklist.

Celestia, surprisingly, stood to attention.

Twilight tapped her checklist.

Applejack facehoofed. "How long have they been going at this?"

"Thirty seven minutes and fifty three point seven six five two seconds," Pinkie replied, lounging against one of the chariots.

"Honestly, this is getting ridiculous," Rarity grumbled. "We're here... wherever here is supposed to be. Why doesn't she just order a different guard to look for... whatever it is we're supposed to be looking for?"

"Ah think it's cause Celestia's tha top ranked pony in the military."

"Well, technically speaking she isn't the top ranked pony anymore," Pinkie pointed out. "Even during Luna's banishment she was always just the Marshal Commander Interim and that was only on the paperwork, she was never activated by the parliament which left most of the Generals to operate the military on their own initiative, and since most Generals are from the Noble houses there wasn't really any effort to keep them active beyond what was needed to keep the country together, but now that Luna's resumed her role as Marshal Commander she's been using her influence to get the army back on its hooves, which is kinda difficult when most of the Generals are embroiled in the Noble family politics but after the invasion I'm almost certain that they'll see how hard Luna is working to get them back up to snuff and anyway since Celestia gave up her position she just falls down to her old rank of Major."

Rarity, Fluttershy, Applejack, Lyra, the changeling claiming to be Bonbon, and the changeling that the changeling claiming to be Bonbon claimed to be Rainbow Dash all stared at Pinkie Pie.

"I listen to ponies," she explained defensively. "Really! That's all! I do not have a plan for throwing the entire military a party."

The ponies visibly relaxed.

"No seriously," Pinkie continued, "I don't actually have a plan. I can throw individual soldiers a party and maybe entire companies but if the whole army is mobilized then how am I supposed to help keep up morale if I can't throw a 'hooray we held the enemy back!' party or a 'good job capturing the strategic location' party on demand?! It's not just the size of the group but the fact that they're always moving and it could be dangerous to put emergency cakes in potential battlefields and, and... Parties don't scale very well, is what I'm saying."

Fluttershy rose an eyebrow. "You've been considering this very seriously, haven't you?"

"We were just invaded," Pinkie pointed out. "I'm against war, but.... if the parliament votes that way, I want to be able to support our soldiers in the field."

The other ponies all paused. Slowly, Applejack put a hoof on Pinkie's shoulder. They looked at each other, a slow, sad smile growing on their faces.

"It'll be all right, Pinkie. Trust me."

"RIGHT!" Twilight suddenly shouted, her expression held somewhere between stern and unbelieving. "Major! The... thing should be buried somewhere over there. You'll know it when you see it. Secure it and do not ask questions and do not let the civilians see it and oh sweet Celestia I'm ordering Celestia around Princess I'm so so so sorry I--"

"Captain Ironmane, you and your men are to guard the prisoners and civilians," the alicorn snapped. "Captain Vorpal Blade, Captain Honorbound, your men are to join me on the digging crew." With a quick wing salute toward Twilight, she walked toward the indicated marker.

"It's not too deep!" the changeling claiming to be Bonbon shouted. "Just... be careful with it!" She turned to Twilight. "You didn't tell her what it was?"

"I..." Twilight shivered, taking a breath. "She can take it, and... discussing it here would be a security risk--:

Bonbon sighed. "That's got to be one of the weakest rationalizations I have ever heard."

"Wait, what is it ya'll are talking about?" Applejack looked from pony to changeling. "What's this thing we're looking for anyhow?"

"Trust me AJ, you don't want to know." The purple unicorn managed to nervously check off a box. "I'm... disturbed just thinking about it."

Bonbon cringed. "Um. I... would be happy if you just took my word, but... I know that you're logical and that... means you'd need confirmation... and, uh..."

"What, are you going to cast a spell on her?" The other changeling finally spoke up. "That's what your plan is, isn't it? Some freaky mind control spell that you pretend is actually confirmation of--"

"No." Bonbon crossed her heart, flicked her wings, and stuck a hoof over her eye. "I Pinkie Pie swear I will not cast any mental magic on Twilight or arrange for mental magic to be cast on Twilight without her explicit permission. I'm just worried about how she plans to go about... confirming."

Twilight Sparkle winced. "It's... not something I want to do. And I really don't want to hurt her..."

Fluttershy sucked in her breath. "Hurt? Oh no, Twilight, who's going to be hurt?"

The unicorn began stroking her tail, her eyes downcast. She didn't answer.

Lyra coughed. "Sooooooo. Hey! While we're all here, let's discuss ancient history. And by that I mean humans--"

Rarity groaned. "Not this again."

"Come on, I paid for everything I asked for!"

"Do you have ANY idea what those commissions put me through?"

"I have to admit they look good on her," Bonbon said brightly. "I don't know how you pulled it off, but you've got more skill at making ponies look different then an entire swarm! That's saying something." She coughed. "You know... because we're changelings and... we... disguise ourselves--"

There was a sudden flurry of activity over the digging site. Muttered exclamations caught the attention of everypony. After a moment, Celestia approached.

"The... item... has been secured." She saluted. "...orders?"

Twilight took a very deep breath.

"...Fluttershy. I need you to come with me."

The pegasus blinked. "Um... Twilight?"

"Please. Just... don't hate me for this..."

It took a moment for her to process the odd statement. Then her wings snapped shut, and she glanced around nervously. "I... um..."

Her eyes met Rarity's; concern.

Her eyes met Applejack's; support.

Her eyes met Pinkie Pie's; confusion.

Her eyes met Rainbow... possibly Rainbow's. "No, Twilight, whatever it is it's a trick! Don't bring Fluttershy into it!"

Her eyes met Bonbon's... sorrow, and apology.

Finally, she met Twilight's gaze.



"For what it's worth," Bonbon said quietly, "I am sorry."

Fluttershy gave her a nod, took a breath, and looked to Twilight. Together they trotted off toward the soldiers.

Applejack, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie tilted their ears forward, desperate to get even a hint of what was going on. Bonbon was breathing deeply, her head drooping; Lyra had a single hoof rubbing at the base of her wings, looking at her pain and helpless to stop it. The other changeling was flicking her head between the dig site and the presumed candymaker, torn between wanting to leap out and protect her friend from whatever was happening... or stopping the evil shapeshifter from ever hurting another again. The guards noticed, giving a magical tug to her chains. She didn't protest.

There was a short yelp. Twilight's voice said something, too quiet for any of them to hear. Fluttershy nodded, murmuring a weak reply.

Then she started quietly sobbing.

Pinkie and Rarity and Applejack started forward--only to be blocked by a gold shod hoof. Celestia shook her head slightly. Twilight was hugging Fluttershy, rocking her gently back and forth.

"What happened?" One changeling glared at the other, struggling against her chains. "What did you do to her?!"

Bonbon sighed. "I told Twilight the truth and.... she showed Fluttershy."

"What? What's that supposed to mean?!"

The guards were returning, carrying something that nopony else could see. They loaded it into a large covered box in one of the chariots. Fluttershy managed to compose herself and took a few deep breaths. She walked back to her friends... and past them, stepping up to Bonbon.

Lyra moved between them quickly. "Look, I know you're upset but if you do anything to her I--"

"How did it happen?" the pegasus asked quietly.

With a deep breath, the candymaker gently pushed her lover aside and looked into Fluttershy's eyes. "A crash. High speeds--"

"No. The last moments."

She nodded. "...I told her what I was... and asked if she'd let me transfer her memories into, uh, a pupa... she said yes... then I became her mother and sang her to sleep..."

The pegasus nodded. "So she knew. Okay. That... that's okay."

"...you were the first thing she asked about. She wanted to know if you were... okay..." Bonbon shrugged. "I was, um, the one that scared the cloud of butterflies..."


"Fluttershy she's not saying that," the other changeling said desperately. "Tell me she's not saying what I think she's saying."

Applejack's jaw dropped. She pointed at the large box, turning her shocked face to Twilight for confirmation. Rarity's hooves went to her mouth in horror as she stared at the changeling, Pinkie's eyes snapped wide as she whirled to focus on the mysterious package. Twilight nodded, slowly.

"She was very brave, for a filly," Bonbon continued quietly. "Didn't even worry about herself right up until the end."

The pegasus chuckled wryly. "Her all over..."

"Fluttershy." The other changeling leaned forward. "Please. It can't be true."

Celestia lowered her gaze.

"...there will need to be a funeral," the pegasus whispered. "A proper one, and.... and you both should attend." Her gaze moved from Bonbon to the other changeling. "Because...."

"Don't... please don't say it, Shy."

"....because you both... she was an influence on you both." Fluttershy giggled. "Hee, you... could say she really shaped your lives, hee hee...."

The laughs broke forth and then she was sobbing again and her friends rushed to her side hugging her tightly and they murmured reassurances and the changeling wanted to jump out too she knew the chains were loose enough but she could not stop staring at the box she could not stop staring at the box she could not stop staring it was so still it had to be a trick it had to be and Fluttershy was breaking down and she wanted to hold her tight but she could not move could not breathe and the world began to tilt and grow grey and she heard Lyra shout and she wanted to help but she could not move--

Author's Note:

Man, you ever have that awkward moment where you want to help but you can't cause your help would hurt? And then the pancakes burn.