• Published 25th Feb 2013
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Winds of Change - Masterweaver


Rainbow Dash is a changeling. Who knew?

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Chapter Four: Memories Of Lies

Scootaloo walked down the halls of the palace, eyes roving up and down the various banners and windows. The other two crusaders had been moved to suites with their elder sisters, mostly for the sake of comfort and security after the attack. She, on the other hoof, had found herself paired with Fluttershy. When she'd asked about Rainbow Dash, though, the other pegasus had clammed up.

That raised some flags in her head.

So now she was hoping to find Shining Armor and ask him where Rainbow was. Sure, he was Twilight's brother, but more importantly he was a captain of the guard. If anypony knew where Dash was, it had to be him.

Of course, finding the stallion was going to be a bit difficult...

Still, months of crusading with Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle had left the pegasus with a mind that could quickly process facts when necessary. One: Shining Armor was in love. Two: His lover had suffered recently by kidnapping. Logical conclusion: Find Cadance, and she'd find Shining Armor.

All she had to do was ask one of the guards where that pretty pink princess was because she love love loved her tiaras! She'd even managed to keep from gagging at the frillyness of her question until she was out of earshot of the guy. Of course the directions he'd given were a bit vague, but 'somewhere in the northeast wing' was a lot better than 'somewhere in Canterlot.' Still, tracking down Cadance and, by extension, captain Armor was proving a lot more tedious than she would have liked; she couldn't even check the rooms systematically, because this part of the palace had hallways and ballrooms and serving quarters all jumbled up as though it had been renovated from a storage area and then renovated again from some sort of restaurant!

No doubt Apple Bloom could find her way in here. She never seemed to get lost in strange buildings...

Scootaloo's ears perked as she rounded the corner. A pair of voices were headed her way, just down the hall. She took a moment to dive under a small table that apparently only existed to hold up a trio of painted plates, listening in as the two ponies trotted unknowingly closer.

"...but I can remember everything I did while I was under her spell. And... I mean, I just can't shake the feeling.... did I propose to her? Or to you?"

"Shining, honey, I was only in that cave for two weeks. Of course you proposed to me."

"No, I know that up here, but...."

The pair stopped right in front of Scootaloo, the pink alicorn turning to her fiancee and wrapping her forelegs around his neck. "Hey. I understand, okay? She lured me into a trap pretending to be you and... I'll admit I felt a bit... betrayed. But if we let ourselves be consumed by doubt, then we'll never be able to have a healthy life."

"I... guess I'm just being silly--"

"No, you were hurt. Deeply. But... I'm here to help you now."

The alicorn smiled gently, leaning in. After a moment, the unicorn glanced up, looking into her eyes. A matching smile, a thankful smile, formed on his own lips. Slowly the distance between them closed, their faces crawling ever closer. Their hearts quickened, muzzles inches from each other--

"OH EW! GAG, ICK!"

The two ponies leapt apart quickly, their eyes snapping to Scootaloo's hiding place with some shock. After a moment, the alicorn chuckled a bit awkwardly. "Well well well! Looks like we have a little peeping tom here, Shiny."

With an aggravated sigh, the unicorn gestured for the filly to step out from under the table. "What are you even doing in this part of the castle?"

Scootaloo emerged, giving the pair a dry glare. "Not looking for kissing ponies. Gross. I'm actually looking for... wait, you're Shining Armor, right?"

"Yes...?"

"Then you know where Rainbow Dash is, right?"

Instantly the stallion tensed up. "Not... at the moment--"

"Do you know when I can see her?"

"Well, actually, no--"

"You know something, don't you."

"Maybe you should head back with your friends and--"

"TELL ME WHERE RAINBOW DASH IS!"

"She's in the hospital!" the alicorn blurted out.

Scootaloo froze, her hooves still gripping on the face of Shining Armor.

"...She is... she was hurt in the battle with the changelings." The princess nodded. "Severely injured, rescuing some ponies... the fact is, because she's an element bearer, we thought it would be better to keep it secret and not let the news ponies bother her."

The filly dropped to the ground, giving her a hurt look. "And... nopony told me?"

"Aside from the bearers and military personnel, the hospital is only letting family members in." The alicorn kneeled down, wrapping the filly in a gentle hug. "She tried to get them to allow you in, but... the doctors are stubborn. So she asked us all to keep an eye on you."

"She didn't want you to be hurt that they weren't letting you see her," Shining Armor added.

Scootaloo shook her head. "Right.... How long until she can...?"

"It's... touch and go," Cadance explained reluctantly. "She's stable but... that only means she's not getting worse. It'll be a while before she gets better, the doctors aren't sure."

Silence filled the hallway. The two adults could only watch as Scootaloo sagged, her eyes shutting tightly to prevent tears from leaking out.

"...she'll be alright." The filly took a deep breath. "She always pulls through." Her eyes snapped open again. "You'll tell me if she gets any better, right?"

"...You have my personal promise as a princess." The alicorn smiled gently, nuzzling Scootaloo for a brief moment.

"Ugh, okay! Okay, I get it!" The pegasus pushed her away. "I'm okay! No more of that mushy junk!"

"What's the problem with mushy junk?" Shining Armor asked in amusment. "You were perfectly happy to be a flower filly."

"That's a wedding. Mushy junk is FINE at a wedding."

"I don't know," Cadance commented slyly, "I think mushy junk has some place outside weddings. Right, schmoopy doo?"

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Shining Armor raised an eyebrow at the retreating filly. "...quite a set of lungs on that one."

"Ironically enough, Twilight says she's tone deaf."

***

"Lyra! I came as soon as I heard!"

The mint green unicorn looked up from her meal, grinning warmly at the approaching mare. "Come on, Bonbon. I'm fine! Heck, I've even got free food cause of the whole thing!" She waved her hayburger for emphasis, before chomping half of it down. "Mmm! Shsh ish gunf!"

"Why couldn't Chry--the changeling queen teach you proper manners when you were enthralled?" The mare sighed, shaking her head as she slid into the seat across from Lyra. "Um... seriously. How are you doing?"

"I'm fiunh." The unicorn gulped down her chow, taking a breath. "Sorry. I'm fine, Bonbon, don't worry. It was a bit... well, scary, but I got out alright." She leaned forward, lowering her voice. "Those times you and I linked... they really helped me shake it off."

"I should never have let you come here," the cream mare muttered. "I should have tied you up in Ponyville..."

"Hey. You didn't know who she'd replaced."

"I should have guessed that bitch would go for somepony important."

"What's with all these should haves?" Lyra put a hoof on her marefriend's shoulder. "You can't have known what was going to happen. I know that you did everything you could to help."

Bonbon sighed. "...not everything."

"...nonono, you don't get to do that. You don't even get to THINK of doing that." The unicorn used her magic to tie the other mare's tail to the table. "Not now! Not after--"

"It's my choice to make!"

"Oh, and I suppose I'm supposed to just sit back and let you WALTZ to your death?"

"Do you really think she'd kill me?"

"Oh gee, I dunno, why is it every time I write a paper on humans all of Canterlot gangs up on me to call me a madmare?!" Lyra stomped her hoof. "Anything that fits outside her clearly defined world gets purged!"

Bonbon gave her a flat look.

"...What?"

"Really. You think she killed off humans."

"Nah, that was Discord. She just hid the evidence they ever existed."

"So, by your own admission, she won't commit genocide."

"But she could still execute you!" Lyra glared at her. "You're all so moral and high but you know what? I don't want to lose you again!"

The two mares stared into each other's eyes. The golden set was beginning to fill with tears, the cyan pair already flooded with guilt. Words unsaid, words that needed not to be said, the language of love and care flowed between them.

Bonbon looked away first. "...if... if anything changes. And I'll tell you first."

"...okay."

***

"...and, um, I think that's it."

"...oh. Uh... thanks, Shy."

"...you're, um, welcome I guess..."

Pegasus and Changeling kept their eyes on the ground, one's cheeks a light pink, the other's a lime green color.

"...listen. I know how hard this has to be for you, and... I just want to say, um, thanks." The changeling swished her tail. "For, you know, helping. With... that."

"It's... no trouble, really." Fluttershy took a breath. "I mean... I guess I thought you would know how to... um..."

"Whoever did this did a good job of overwriting my memories," the changeling grumbled. "I don't even know my own body now. I don't even... am I still a mare?!"

"Erm."

Panicked blue eyes locked onto the pegasus. "Fluttershy. Tell me I'm still a mare. Please."

"...ah... from, what I could tell... changelings, um, don't exactly have mares and, um, stallions..." She curled up and squeaked. "You're kind of... both..."

The cell was quiet for a moment.

Eventually, the changeling slumped. "So even that's a lie. Good to know. Good to know I'm a complete joke."

Fluttershy's head shot up. "What?"

"Bearer of the element of loyalty? Ha!" The changeling pointed at her face. "What is this? This is completely not loyal to anything! Not to friends, not to Equestria, not even to the memories in my head! Hooray, that queen has a wicked sense of humor!" She laughed mirthlessly, tears forming in her eyes. "I can't even be loyal to the hive, because I don't remember it. Nope! Just a stupid! BUCKING! JOKE!"

The changeling threw up her hooves and lunged at the ground--

--but Fluttershy was there before her face could hit the cobblestone, holding her in a tight hug. "Don't you dare hurt yourself. Don't you even dare."

"Hah... like it even matters now."

"Now you listen here, young lady!" The pegasus wrenched the changeling's head up. "Even if you aren't who you thought you were the fact is you are still somebody, and that means you're worth something! Would Rainbow Dash ever try something like that?"

"I'm not Rainbow, though."

"Then who are you?"

"I'm a joke! I'm a complete---"

"No."

"Oh come on, Shy, you know it's--"

"No."

The changeling stared at her. "...don't you want Rainbow Dash?"

"Yes... but I don't want her to be responsible for anyone killing themselves."

That got a wry laugh out of the changeling. "Yeah... she's always doing suicide prevention stuff. I... don't think she'd ever tell you this, but... there was this one time in flight camp where she... saw Cloudkicker just sitting alone. Apparently somepony in her family had just lost their lives in the service of the guard. So Rainbow went up and hugged her..."

"That sounds a lot like something she would do. And if she were here... she'd be mad, but I don't think she'd want to kill you."


"...I don't think I want to die."

"I know." Fluttershy nuzzled the changeling. "I... I promise, whoever you turn out to be, you'll always be welcome in my home."

Author's Note:

Hey guys, you miss me?

Man, real life can get complicated fast, that's all I have to say. But I'm back!