• Published 25th Feb 2013
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Winds of Change - Masterweaver


Rainbow Dash is a changeling. Who knew?

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Chapter Six: Shuddering Faith

"...so she thinks ya'll could scan her memories ta find when tha real Rainbow was... ya know."

Twilight sighed, rubbing her horn. "It's possible, AJ, but.... mental magic is delicate. I could develop the basic spell based off current medithaumology, I guess... I'd prefer if somepony more experienced with that particular field was the one to cast it though. And, well, I don't want to bring in any more ponies than I have to."

"Well, Luna walks in the realm of dreams," Rarity pointed out. "And her... absence during the invasion makes her more neutral than other ponies would be."

The purple unicorn shook her head. "Okay, so we have a... plan, now. I just...." She put a hoof to her horn and sighed.

Rarity blinked, stepping forward quietly. "Twilight, darling.... have you been sleeping?"

Weary lavender eyes peered back at her. "I try... every night. I get a few hours, but... I can't stop thinking about that queen. She almost sabotaged my relationship with my big brother... she did, actually, and if she hadn't dumped me where I could find the real Cadance, I... and, and I acted so...."

Without warning, Twilight lunged at Rarity, wrapping her hooves around her neck and breaking down into tears. "I'm sorry! I didn't, I, I didn't want to ruin the wedding! I was being selfish and spiteful and cruel and even, even, even if I was right I shouldn't ever have done any of that I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm so so so so sorry...."

"Shhh...." The fashionista ran her hooves gently through Twilight's mane. "It's alright.... it's alright. We're friends. We forgive you..."

"I wasn't, wasn't.... I was horrible, I shouldn't, I don't deserve your forgiveness..."

Applejack put a hoof on the weeping unicorn's shoulder. "Sugarcube... we'd never up and leave ya. Maybe ya were... a complete snake, yeah, but tha thing is that's not how ya normally act. We were worried fer ya."

"I think, maybe, you should talk to your brother and sister-in-law about this," Rarity suggested delicately. "If... if you can make peace with them, then--"

"No! No, not yet, no." Twilight shudders. "I almost... almost killed Cadance. I can't... not now. Not now...."

She shuddered. "No. Not now. Later. Later when, when we find Rainbow. When I fix, fix, fix everything. Then. Then we talk, not now."

"Are you sure about that?" Rarity asked, leaning back. "This is... a very deep issue. Putting it off could--"

"Checklist!" Twilight explained. "Make sure everypony is accounted for. Ensure changelings cannot attack again. Then, then, then deal with issues in safe, comfortable environment. It works better if the boxes are checked." She pulled away. "Need to make the mental spell now."

"Twilight, ya need ta get some shut-eye."

"Nono, Applejack... yes, but not now. Maximum efficiency, work till bedtime."

"Twilight, dear--"

Applejack put a hoof to Rarity's chest and shook her head. At the unicorn's raised eyebrow, she jerked her head to the door and walked away; the fashionista followed after a moment, pulling the door almost shut behind them.

"Twilight's not gonna listen ta reason right now Rares."

Rarity huffed. "She needs rest, Applejack. Can't you see that?"

"Yep, Ah sure can. But she... look, ya know when yer in 'tha zone' and somethen interupts ya?"

"Yes. It is honestly most aggravating."

The cowpony looked through the door at the frantically scribbling scholar. "This is almost like that. Ah've seen it before... heck, Ah've been there before, after Ah failed ta get money at tha rodeo. It's a way of... keepen' tha thoughts away from what ya don't want ta think about. Ya focus on what needs doen' and ya forget ta think bout yerself..."

Sadness and shame formed on Rarity's face; she hadn't considered that angle. "I... I see."

"With me, it was just money and I could be talked back ta sense. But this..." Applejack shook her head. "She's not gonna get tha rest she needs less she's forced asleep. Way Ah see it, we need ta knock her out somehow."

The unicorn flinched... but, after taking a deep breath, nodded to herself. "Fluttershy... Fluttershy knows some chiropractic techniques... and pressure points. If she offered to massage Twilight while she worked..."

Applejack snorted. "Ah was thinken' more along tha lines of druggen' her food, but yer way works too. Ah just hope we can get her on board with this plan."

"I think I can do that." Rarity smiled slyly. "I know how she works, after all."

***

"They're what?!"

"That just ain't right."

"I knew you guys would agree with me."

"Now hold up thar. It ain't right, but Ah get why they're doen' it. If they let just anypony into that thar hospital, who knows what could happen? And ta be quite frank, we don't zactly have a reputation fer being tha safest of fillies ta be round."

"Oh come on!"

"Scootaloo, Apple Bloom is right. I mean... we did kinda sorta release Discord that one time...."

"That was a total accident! And, and he was probably manipulating us! Come on girls, what if it was one of your sisters?!"

"Tha docs would let us see 'em."

"Uuuuugh!"

"Apple Bloom, that was insensitive and you know it."

"...yer right.... Ah'm sorry bout that, Scoots. Ah get where yer comen' from, but just breaken into a hospital don't sit right by me."

"That's the thing though. I don't know what hospital she's in! Shining Armor didn't tell me."

"Did ya ask?"

"....no."

"Thar ya go then."

"It is a bit weird, though. He should have at least mentioned a name."

"Oh come on, Sweetie Belle, do ya really think that's that unusual?"

"Well, if Rarity was in a hospital and I wasn't allowed to visit, I think my parents would tell me which hospital I wasn't allowed to visit."

"Shining Armor ain't Scoot's dad."

"Come on, Apple Bloom, you know that's not what Sweetie Belle meant!"

"What, ya think that tha Captain of tha guard would keep somethen that important a secret?"

"Well, Celestia kept Nightmare Moon and Discord secret. She can't have done all that without help."

"Scootaloo, Celestia did that cause they were Nightmare Moon and Discord. Those are big thangs, tha captain of tha guard wouldn't know bout stuff like that."

"But smaller secrets, like what REALLY happened with Rainbow Dash, could fall under his... job thing!"

"Jurisdiction."

"Thank you Sweetie."

"Ugh! Even IF he's keeping that a secret, Ah don't see why we should go prodding bout looken' for em. Thar's a reason that he's keepen' it secret."

"Like what?"

"I dunno, that's why it's secret."

"You--I--RAINBOW DASH COULD BE DYING!"

"That... what? Ah mean, maybe, but... what does that have ta do with anythang?"

"It has everything to do with anything! The longer we sit around talking, the more likely it is she's going to get in a worse position. We've gotta help her!"

"Oh my gosh, I just thought of something! What if she's been sent on a super secret spy mission to the Changeling... home place?"

"Okay, girls, this is seriously--"

"That makes loads of sense! She's super fast and awesome and she'll be able to pound the queen into dust!"

"Scootaloo, Ah really don't think--"

"I think that spell flung her west towards Whitetail Wood! Or maybe the roots of the unicorn mountains!"

"Sweetie Belle, don't encourage--"

"Okay, so if we find the Changeling Queen, we find Dash. So, we're going to need camping supplies for the woods and some way to tell that we aren't changelings, a secret code or something."

"Ah really don't think that--"

"Oh oh oh! Here it is, when we meet up we say 'How's the wind?' and if it's the real us, we tilt our head left like this and say 'Windy' then our head right like this and say 'How are you?' and then you reply 'Real cool.' See, it's simple to remember but hard to spot."

"Are we really doen' this?"

"That is brilliant. That is brilliant and we're making that our CMC passcode."

"We're really doen' this."

"CUTIE MARK CRUSADER CHANGELING CHASERS YAY!"

"Let's do this! For Dash!"

"Ah'll just come along and hope ya'll don't kill yerselves...."

***

"Hey there Grumpyfangs! Guess what I got for ya?"

The changeling winced as Pinkie slammed the door shut behind her, giving her a weary look. "I don't think Changelings eat cupcakes."

"But Dashie always did. And Dashie certainly ate a lot at the breakfast before the wedding, fueling up for the rainboom she should have made. And if she was replaced the day before when Cadance asked her to escort her home like you think she was, that was you! Besides, it's made with looooooooooooooove." The baker waved the treat tantalizingly under the prisoner's snout. "Don't you want some looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove?"

"I don't think it works that way, Pinkie."

"Listen. You've been locked up in this cell without any love for a while, and I don't think even creatures who DON'T feed on love could tolerate that for long. Just eat the cupcake please?"

"Pinkie--"

"Pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleeeeeeeeeeeeease?"

The changeling sighed, gripping the cupcake between her forehooves and maneuvering it up to her muzzle. She took a sniff, nodded, and started to chip away at her treat. She was very aware of Pinkie Pie's intense stare as she swallowed.

"Sooooooooooooo?"

She shrugged. "I guess... eh, it tastes the same as any of your other cupcakes."

"That's cause they're all made with loooooooooo-"

"Yeah, got it. Thanks." The changeling sunk to the floor. "You can go now."

Pinkie tapped her chin. "Hmmm. Nah, I think I'll stick around for a bit."

"You seriously don't need to--"

"Hey, so you know what I heard? I heard Soarin was kissing Spitfire! Isn't that weird?!"

"...Pinkie, they're married. They have a daughter--"

"ON THE TOPIC of the Wonderbolts, I've been thinking of throwing a WONDERBOLTS PARTY for all the Wonderbolts fans of Ponyville. Except that's kinda silly to do without the actual Wonderbolts, so I was thinking maybe I should invite them to Ponyville--"

"Pinkie, seriously--"

"--so I figured I'd try to find a good pegasus holiday to invite them over on and then I thought HEY what's Private Pansy's birthday so I went into the library and started researching and did you know that Private Pansy was actually Commander Hurricane's daughter--"

"Look, Pinkie--"

"--which makes you Fluttershy's father, which makes her another duchess of Cloudsdale I think except she doesn't actually have a rainbow mane so maybe we could dye it but then I thought hey why doesn't she just marry a snakeybird, right? So I started to look for their country--"

"Hey, listen, I get that--"

"--south Amareica, which is a jungle so we'll need a machete and then I realized you would make the perfect Daring Do! Will you be Daring Do for me? Will ya?"

The changeling rubbed her head. "Pinkie... I'm in a dungeon. I'm dangerous. You really shouldn't... shouldn't even be talking to me like this."

"Why not?"

"I could, I dunno, hypnotise you or something."

"Silly filly! Nonmagical hypnosis requires the subject on some level wants to do what they're being hypnotized to do and magical hypnosis requires a knowledge of mental magic that Dashie never had! And since you only remember what Dashie remembers, you can't hypnotize me." Pinkie rolled her eyes. "Duh!"

"Pinkie, seriously. I... you don't want to talk to me."

"Yes I do. Why else would I be here?"

"Pinkie, I'm the bad guy."

"I dunno, it sounds like the bad guys used you to do bad things but that doesn't make you a bad guy, really."

"I'm a changeling!" she shouted. "Don't you get it? Changelings are the bad guys and I'm a changeling and--"

"Correlation does not equal causation."

The changeling stared at Pinkie. "I... what?"

"Just because the bad guys are changelings doesn't mean that changelings are the bad guys. That would be like saying since I throw parties all parties are thrown by me! And as talented and skilled with parties as I am even I would not attempt something of that magnitude." Pinkie paused. "Without good reason."

"But, I... what?"

"You are not a bad guy," Pinkie deadpanned.

"Yes I am!"

"No."

"Pinkie, I am a horrible--"

"No."

"I've replaced Rainbow Dash!"

"Wrong, you are the REPLACEMENT for Rainbow Dash. You did not do the placing again. You were moved, not the mover. You have done nothing. Ergo, you have done nothing wrong."

The changeling opened her mouth, closed it, narrowed her eyes, made some vague motions with a hoof, opened her mouth again, and managed a confuddled squawk.

"Exactamundo." Pinkie grinned and leaned in. "By the way, I heard you had two?"

"Two... two what?"

The earth pony waggled her eyebrows.

"...Oh. OH! Uh, oh, um, I..." The changeling's face grew green as she desperately tried to look away. "It's kinda, I, um, well, yes but--"

"Neat!"

Author's Note:

So I was in a podcast thing...