• Published 3rd Apr 2013
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Five Score, Divided by Four - TwistedSpectrum



As a fan of the show, I always loved Rainbow Dash and her cutie mark, but I never wanted it to appear on my leg! Now that it has, all sorts of things are getting weird around here. I'm a guy, not a mare! Cartoon ponies aren't real... right?

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24. Cross country.

Chapter 24: Cross Country

“Pinkie, you sure about this?” I ask with trepidation as we wait for the the car to approach our location. We’re hiding in the corner of a local park. We need a way to get to our hotel, and Pinkie got the idea of having this someone drive us there.

Rarity nods. “I’m not terribly fond of it either Dash, but I do hope he arrives soon, I really need to use a bathroom.”

I crease my eyebrows, “Uh, Rarity we’re in wooded area, what’s stopping you?”

She looks back at me, aghast at hearing the suggestion. “What? I’m not peeing outside.”

Really confused now, I tilt my head. “Um, we’re literally ponies. How else could you possibly go to the bathroom?”

Pinkie snorts, “She still insists on using an indoor toilet. Personally, I never understood how that is even possible with these bodies.”

Rarity crosses her front forelegs. “Hmmf, well, I never went camping in my entire life, and don’t plan on doing my deed outside now.”

I smirk. “Rarity, you went camping before. Heh, remember the episode Sleepless in Ponyville? You do realize that was totally you, and that was camping.”

Rarity looks at me strangely. “That was me? Gah, that’s really weird to comprehend right now.”

I shrug, “You get used to it. Sort of.”

“Ohh! That’s his car!” Pinkie happily exclaims, ending the discussion for us as she bounces on her hooves. The car pulls up alongside where we specified and the engine shuts off.

I nibble on my lip as I inspect the car. Looks like it only has just the driver and no passengers. Just one human, that's good. If he tries anything I can just smash his face in. “Alright, be careful Pinkie, I don't want a repeat of what happened to you guys last night.”

The mare rests a hoof on my shoulder. “Dashie, don't worry! This guy is nothing like that, trust me.” Pinkie turns and spots the human getting out of his car. “Starbreezer!”

She leaves our hiding spot and runs out to greet him. His eyes light up and he kneels down, embracing her in a tender hug as she rests her head on his shoulder. He strokes her mane. “It's great to see you again, Pinkie. I came as soon as I could, you said you were in trouble?”

Pinkie nods. “My friends and I need someone to drive us out of here. We got trapped here in broad daylight and there are police everywhere now. We just want to get out of here, can you help us get back to our hotel?”

He breaks the hug and gives her a quick scratch behind the ears. “Of course I'll help you. Granted, the whole city is practically on lock down right now. Hopefully, your hotel isn't that far from here.”

Rarity steps out from hiding. “It's only about a mile away.” She gives him the address.

The man can't help but grin. “Rarity... wow, the pleasure is all mine.” He walks towards her and holds out a hand.

Rarity extends a hoof and gingerly shakes his hand. “Err, yes, nice to meet you.” She glances up and down the street as they shake. “Shall we get going?”

“Yeah, let's get moving.” He looks around for a moment. “Wait, Pinkie, I thought you said there were three of--.”

I step out from the bushes and hold a tense expression. Starbreezer's mouth stops working the second he sees me. “Y-y-you're...”

I roll my eyes. “Yeah, I'm a pegasus, let's get going.”

He holds a hand over his mouth. ”Oh my god... Best pony... She's real.”

I can't help but chuckle. “Uh, thanks?” I give my mane a shake. “Always nice to meet a fan.” I look up at him, and he appears frozen in space. He’s just staring at me like someone who got caught in the path of the second coming of Jesus. I sigh, “Right, so seriously dude, we need to get off this street.”

He snaps to attention. “Yes! Of course Rainbow Dash!” I'm pretty sure I hear a squee noise come from him, and then he starts to whisper to himself. 'Oh my god, oh my god, it's Rainbow Dash, it's really her. Just play it cool, gotta play this cool'. He awkwardly hurries over and opens the front passenger door to his car. “After you, Dashie.”

I glance at him and sigh, “Don't call me that. You didn't find me in a cardboard box.”

His eyes go wide as I trot into the car. “You... you read our fanfics? Oh my god, did you read mine? You were the main character and I wrote about how Twilight came to you asking for dating advice. She couldn't learn that from books, and she asked you to help her learn about love. Then, over the course of four hundred thousand words, you taught her true romance...”

He goes on about something or other but I tune him out and check the backseat to make sure Pinkie and Rarity are inside. I wave a hoof at him. “Starbreezer, it's a nice fic I'm sure, but can we start driving here?”

The human turns on the engine. “Oh, right, yeah.” He looks me over for a few seconds before putting the car into drive. “I just can't believe Rainbow Dash is in my car.”

Pinkie kicks his seat. “Oh, and what am I, chopped liver?”

I can't help but laugh at the display. I glance back at the two ponies in the back seat and an idea forms in my head. “Oh, Starbreezer, speaking of fanfics. Rarity here loves shipfics, do you know any good Rarity/Dash fics you could tell us about?”

I bite my tongue as I watch Rarity's eyes widen in horror. “What? No, why would I want to hear about those?”

Starbreezer ignores her protest. “Oh, sure, there are lots of great Rarity ship fics. My favorite one is called 'A Rare Rainbow'. It's pretty much a straight clopfic. It starts out with Rarity...”

Rarity groans and buries her face in her hooves, and I spend the rest of the car ride biting my tongue to hold back laughter. I think I like this Starbreezer guy.

~~~~~~

“Shining, come on, you had to know I was going to try out that spell.” My sister rolls her eyes at me.

I facehoof. “Twilight, I know you like trying out new spells, but honestly now. Why would you intentionally come all the way up here?”

She trots over to the window and looks at the Vancouver skyline. “I admit, coming here isn't ideal, but I had to learn that spell. And the only way to learn it is to cast it.” She looks back at me. “And it's not just because I wanted to know it for the sake of knowing it. Teleportation is an entire branch of magic, knowing how to do this spell gives me a stepping stone into doing more advanced, and useful, teleportation spells.”

“Such as?”

She paces along the windows. “The show bible detailed how Twilight did her short distance teleports. You know, the basic teleport spell that Twilight uses all the time in the show? Well, Lauren Faust wrote that as long as Twilight could physically see her target location, she could send herself there just by looking at the location and thinking about placing her hooves over there.”

I crease my eyebrows. “That doesn't make any sense.”

She nods. “Exactly how I felt about it before. However, now that I know how to 'teleport home' I think I can do it. I mean, you taught me what it feels to teleport, and how to 'let go' from my starting position. So, using that key knowledge, I think I can piece together the rest of the short distance teleport spell.”

I nod, “Okay, I admit, that would be immensely useful to know how to do.”

Twilight walks closer to the broken windows and peers down at the street. “Which is why I had to try out the 'teleport home' spell. I knew I would have to try it at least once to understand how it worked. And while I didn't really want to come to Canada, better I come here now rather than like two days from now. I mean, you were already stuck up here, right? So I might as well join you if it means I can learn an entire new branch of magic in the process.”

I sigh, she has a point. Of course she does, my sister always wins arguments like these. “Fine, fine, I understand why you came up here. Now, since you're here, can you help me steal a car? Turns out, it's a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”

Twilight nods, not really listening as she looks out the window at the street. “Brother, do you see that cotton candy stand down there?”

I trot closer to the window and squint down at the street which is twenty floors down. “Hmm? What about it? What are you--.”

KA-FLASH

Twilight's horn glows for a second before she erupts into a spherical purple flash of light. I shield my eyes and stumble backwards, only to realize Twilight is gone. I look around in a panic. “Twilight? Sis?” Wait a second, did she just do what I think she did?

I run to the window, looking down at the cotton candy stand. Just as my eyes locate the spot I see a flash of purple from that location, followed a few seconds later by laughter erupting from the bedroom.

“Twilight?” I canter to her bedroom and find her laughing hysterically, cone of cotton candy still held in her mouth. My jaw drops, “Did you really just master the concept of short distance teleportation, in the thirty seconds it took you to explain it to me?”

Still laughing to herself, she reaches up a hoof and takes the cotton candy cone out of her mouth. “That street vender, oh my god that was priceless.” She wipes a tear of laughter from her eye. “Okay, so my teleport wasn't quite as accurate as I hoped. Instead of landing on the street like I planned, I materialized right on top of this poor guy's candy cart. I just appear on top of his food, less than one foot away from him.” She laughs again, then has to catch her breath for a second before continuing. “So then I try to act casual, and I calmly ask him for a small cotton candy cone. The poor guy picks up a cone of the candy, and then he just puts it in my mouth. He doesn't say anything, he doesn’t even break eye contact. He just stares at me, and then gives it to me without asking questions!”

I raise a hoof in sheer confusion. “And then, what, you just teleported away?”

“Yes!” She exclaims, bursting out in laughter again. “Can you just imagine his face right now? I mean, how could anyone react to that happening to them?” She erupts into a chorus of giggles.

I can't help but laugh a little myself before shaking my head. “Who are you, and what did you do with my sister?”

She takes a bite of cotton candy. “Oh, come on, I deserve some fun.”

I nod, “Yeah, I guess? I mean, you did just master teleportation in a matter of minutes somehow. Still not sure how you did that by the way.”

She swallows the candy. “Just more confidence I guess. I mean, now that I know I used to cast spells like that all the time, I just feel more comfortable trying them out.”

I raise an eyebrow. “You used to cast spell like that? What? When?”

She frowns. “Ah, right, you weren't there for Dash's speech. Uh, tell you what brother. Let's go steal that car, and then I'll have a story to share with you as we drive.”

I grin. “Not so fast, first things first. Teach me that short distance teleport spell.”

Twilight smirks. “Fair enough, you taught me the basic teleport, I suppose I owe you the other half of the lesson. It might come in handy later on.”

“Later on?” I gesture at the window. “Screw later on, I just want it to get some cotton candy.”

~~~~~~

“So, this is the place?” Starbreezer asks as we pull into the sketchy looking motel. He puts the car into park and we all look around for signs of any humans.

The coast looks pretty clear to me. “Yeah, this is the place.” I open the door with a hoof and hop out onto the pavement. “Hey driver. Leave the motor running because we're on the run.”

Pinkie giggles and hops out the back, but Starbreezer just tilts his head in confusion. “Sorry, what was that Dash?”

Rarity joins him in the confusion. “I thought this was our destination?”

I shake my head. “I wish, but no, you girls were captured while carrying keys to your hotel rooms, right?” They both nod, and I continue. “That means the thugs had them back in that house that got caught in. And that means the FBI has them right now. They are no doubt on their way here right now thinking that these rooms belong to an associate of the 'terrorists' back there.”

Pinkie's ears drop, “Buck.”

Rarity glances at her. “Pinkie, language.” She sighs, “Dash here does have a point though, we can't stay here.”

The three of us look back at Starbreezer, his car still running. I paw a hoof at the ground. “So, Starbreezer, is there any chance you could drive us to--”

The man agrees before I can even finish my sentence. “Oh course! Anything for you Rainbow Dash. You say drive, and I shall respond with 'how far?'.”

I blush slightly, this is actually a little awkward. “Thanks kid. Umm, it won't be that far though, just north so we can find a hotel closer to the border. Anyway, wait here, we'll be right back with our stuff.”

He nods eagerly and the three of us ponies take off. The only room number I knew is Twiilight's, so we head there first. “How much stuff did you guys bring to your rooms by the way? If possible, we need to remove all the evidence that you stayed in these rooms. Think we can get it all in one trip?”

Rarity nods. “I would think so, there are only three rooms, and the four of us only brought about one bag's worth of items.”

We reach Twilight's room and I open it with the card from my saddle bag. I turn towards Rarity. “Wait, three rooms for four ponies?” She nods slowly and I feel myself smirk. “So, which two of you are shagging?”

Pinkie giggles and Rarity turns bright red. “Shining and I are not doing that, we just share a room because we are close friends, that's all.” I just smile. In truth, I already pretty much knew Rarity and Shining were close, but putting her on the spot like this is just too precious. Rarity clears her throat, “Ahem, so, let's get Twilight's belongings, shall we?”

I nod, and Pinkie and I grab all of her things while Rarity moves to use the bathroom quickly. There really isn’t much to take, but we get it all and then I step outside. “Okay, if you two are ready, let’s go onto the next room.”

“Sounds good.” Rarity nods as she moves behind me.

I glance back, both Pinkie and Rarity are in formation behind me. “Um, girls?”

“Hmm?” Pinkie responds, tilting her head like a puppy.

I chuckle, “Why are you two following me? I have no idea where your rooms are. I need to be following you two, not the other way around.”

“Oh, right.” Rarity stammers and she trots around me, blushing slightly. “Sorry, we just got used to you having all the answers, I guess. Um, follow me I suppose?”

She takes us up a staircase and to her old hotel room. I size up the door. “Okay ladies, stand back.”

They both stare at me. “What’s the plan? It's locked.”

“Pony lock picks.” I turn around and raise one of my back legs. How much force do I need to kick down a door? Hmm, maybe I should give it a gentle tap just to make sure I’m lined up correctly. “Okay girls, on three. One...” I jolt my leg to give the door a tap.

~CRACK~

I wince as I feel the doorframe give and the door slams inwards. Rarity frowns at me. “I thought you were going to do it on ‘three’.”

I smile awkwardly. “Go figure, so did I.”

We all move into the room and raid it for belongings. I pause at the door and frown as I see the damage I caused. “So the FBI is going to show up thinking there are suspects here, and then they are going to see the doorframe is kicked in.”

Pinkie giggles. “Yeah, they are going to be really confused. I mean, look at the room itself, we left no fingerprints anywhere, but the carpet is full of hoof marks.”

Rarity nods as she looks at the room. “And the bed and blankets are full of horse hair. Oh, and the whole room smells like ponies.”

I laugh softly. “Okay, whatever, let’s get that last room. I actually feel bad for the guy that has to do a write up report on this place.”

We trot over to the last room and raid it for their personal belongings. All three rooms cleared, we head back down to the car.

Pinkie stops as we walk across the parking lot, “Uh oh guys, cherries and berries!”

I stop, “Cherries and what?”

Rarity pushes me forward, “Red and blue police lights! Either someone saw us and called the cops, or they traced those key cards and they are coming.”

We break out into a gallop, and soon the distant sound of approaching sirens are heard. Starbreezer’s car backs out of his parking stall and we meet him halfway. He pokes his head out the window. “Let’s go, let’s go!”

We clumsily pile into the car and Starbreezer accelerates before we even finish closing the doors. Thankfully, this parking lot has two entrances. Starbreezer heads for the far one, and we leave the parking lot just as several police cars drive into it from the other entrance. I hold my breath to see if any give chase, but no, they all park themselves.

“Close call.” I mutter.

Starbreezer nods, “I had faith in your guys. So, where we headed?”

I tap my smartphone and look for northern border towns we could use. “Bellingham.”

~~~~~~

With Twilight's help, stealing a car was easy. I stare out the window as we drive. If I remember this right, we have about thirty minutes until we hit the border.

“So, what's the plan when we get there?” Twilight asks, yawning as she looks over at me.

My heart rate goes up as I see her actions. “Twilight, watch the road!” The purple alicorn is in the driver's seat, sitting casually on her hind legs as she works both the pedals and the steering wheel with just her magic.

She rolls her eyes, but turns back to face the road. “You have no faith in my driving, brother.”

I nod. “Yeah, well, excuse me for finding this whole thing a little uneasy. Are you sure you don't want me to hold the wheel?”

She waves a hoof at me. “I'm the physical embodiment of the Element of Magic. Pretty sure I can manage holding a steering wheel.”

I sigh and look back out the window. Twilight had just finished telling me what Dash explained to her. Apparently, we were ponies all along? My real name, and real life, is Shining Armor? I sigh, “Sis, I still don't know if I buy that story. I mean, sure it explains a lot of things, but it also raises some rather worrying questions. How can we possibly change back to being humans if this is who we are supposed to be?” I shake my head. “There has to be another explanation for all this.”

She yawns again. “Yeah, it is a bit out there, and I'm still not sure what it really means in the long run. That being said, Dash was pretty convincing.”

I cross my forelegs and sit back in the chair. “Pfft, and what makes Dash think she has all the answers? I mean, I'm eternally grateful she showed up and helped save Rarity and Pinkie, but I don't like how she thinks she can just come here and change all of our plans and tell us what she thinks is going on.”

Twilight raises one eyebrow. “Jealous you didn't think of it first, brother? In any case, Dash did have some pretty good points. How's this for starters: Does the phrase 'Five Score' mean anything to you?”

My frown fades. Five score, I knew that phrase, it's from something. I glance at Twilight and say the first thing on my mind, “Divided by four?”

She nods, then changes lanes to pass someone. “Exactly. It's going to be from a dream you are having, a certain recurring dream. A dream where you are, no doubt, doing something as Shining Armor.” She turns to look at me. “A dream that ends with Discord attacking you.”

I stare back out the window. “Yeah, for a long time I thought that was part of the season finale. Then, well, recently I have no idea what it is all about.”

We pass a sign that reads: United States border, 15 km. Twilight makes another lane change. “Those were your last moments as a pony before Discord sent you to Earth.” She sighs. “Or so Dash says anyway. Did you have anything exciting happen? Any good spells or anything?”

I scratch my head. “The only spell I really used was the ‘teleport home’ spell, which is exactly how I learned that one.” I look at her, still not entirely sure if I believed all this. “What about you? What happens in your dream?”

“Nearly all of it follows what happens in the show finale. I'm Twilight, and I'm waiting in Canterlot for Celestia to return. I feel Discord's presence outside my room, but pay it no real attention as he was supposed to be on our side. Then he starts dispelling Shining Armor's, err, your defensive enchants that were around my chambers. I was about to go out there and ask him what he was doing, but I figured he was just playing some practical joke on someone or something. In any case, I wanted to finish this letter I was writing to Cadance when suddenly I hear the door open. Before I can even really begin to react, Discord hits me with some magic and immobilizes me and prevents my magic. I struggle to move as I feel him start to charge some strange spell. He was preparing a spell unlike anything I felt before. I cry out asking what he's doing, and he just laughs as he sends me mental images of what he did to Celestia.”

My sister grits her teeth and pauses for a moment before continuing. “He showed me what happened, how he abused her trust and pretty much backstabbed her when she was at her weakest. I didn't understand what he was doing, and before I could really comprehend what was going on, he started saying that Five Score chant.”

I'm leaning towards my sister at this point, why didn't she tell me any of this earlier? “And then you felt your body start to slip away and all of your memories start to vanish? I know the rest I’m afraid.”

She looks at me and bites her lip. “Not quite. As you said I felt my body start to vanish and I felt a blanket or sorts start to cover my memories. I watched in frozen horror as Discord started to finish his chant, and then I could feel memory after memory start to vanish into nothing...”

I raise an eyebrow. “But...?”

She nods. “But, I knew what he was doing, I suddenly remembered that I read about terrible memory removal spells that were similar to what he was doing. I couldn't stop the spell completely since I was frozen. But since I knew what he was doing, I used precious seconds to try and save key memories.” She sighs. “Imagine you look up to see a blanket falling over you. I knew I couldn't avoid the blanket, so instead I just started poking holes in it as it fell. The blanket did fall over my mind, but by the time it did, it had hundreds of tiny holes in it.” She nods her head slowly. “And I think each of those holes revealed a small memory underneath.”

I feel my heart in my throat. “Then when you were a human, you had hundreds of those tiny glimpses showing you another life... so you built a make believe world around it, and used your toys to act it out?”

Traffic slows to a crawl as we near the border, and Twilight moves into an exit lane. “I don't know Shining, but, well I guess that all fits, doesn't it?”

I shake my head slowly, unable to fully comprehend all of it. “Why didn't you tell us this dream before?”

She sighs, “It didn't really make sense to me before. I never once thought I was actually Twilight from those dreams, so I never once thought to link that dream to reality. But then Dash came and started talking about how she was really Rainbow Dash...”

I stare at my hooves. “So that's it then, we really are ponies.” I look at my sister. “Twilight, that means we're never going to be humans again. We're stuck like this? Forever?”

Twilight doesn't make eye contact with me, and we exit the highway and pull onto a side street. She shuts off the engine, “Time to ditch the car. We have to hoof it from here.”

I say nothing and nod, gathering our things and passing them over to Twilight. Our faces cross for a second, and there are tears in my sister's eyes.

~~~~~~

“Well, here we are, the city of Bellingham, just 20 miles south of the Canadian border.” Starbreezer pulls into a small hotel near a wooded area on the northern outskirts of the town. He drives us into a shaded area close to one of the hotel staircases and then stops the car.

“Thanks man, I really owe you one!” I give him a happy smile, knowing he would eat it up. This guy is still a touch creepy, but I have to admit, he really helped us out today.

He blushes. “Aww, shucks.”

Rarity digs through her bags and magics out a credit card. “Starbreezer, darling, can you go inside and rent some rooms for us? We have friends coming so get us like four rooms if you can.”

“And find out if they have room service!” Pinkie pipes up from the back.

Starbreezer grabs the floating credit card and nods, then makes his way out of the car. He suddenly stops and looks back at us. “Do you want me to crack the window open?”

I facehoof. “Heh, we’re not dogs dude, if we get hot in here I think we can figure it out.”

He stammers an apology and walks to the lobby. I chuckle, “Where did you guys find this guy?”

Rarity sighs, “Long story, I’m glad we found him though, he really saved us here.”

Pinkie rolls her eyes and makes a ‘tsk, tsk’ sound. “No one’s gonna say it, huh?” I look at her, confused, so she throws her hooves in the air. “Hey, Pinkie Pie, you’re so awesome! You just single handedly befriended this guy a few days ago, managed to get his phone number, was the only one to think of contacting him today, and successfully brought three ponies out of a city that was on armed lockdown! Wow, Pinkie, you are so great!”

Rarity grins wide and I blush and stare at the floor. “Well played Pinkie, and yes, thank you for all of the above.”

Pinkie just sticks her tongue out at me, and a few seconds later we see Starbreezer walking back towards the car.

The three of us get out of the car and he hands Pinkie the hotel keys and credit card before turning to Rarity and I. “The hotel is actually pretty booked, a lot of news crews are in town to film the military build up.”

“Oh, that’s great.” I don’t know which part of that sentence is worse. News crews in the same hotel as us? Well, that sucks. Military build up? What the hell, are they really still sore about my fly over?

He continues, “So anyway, they only had two rooms, but they both have two beds so hopefully that should work out.”

Rarity nods, “Splendid work Starbreezer, you really outdid yourself today.”

She reaches over to give him a hug. He smiles as he hugs her back. “I guess this is where we part ways.”

He turns to me, I do my best Dash impression, knowing it’s what he wants to see. “Hey, stay cool, Starbreezer. Maybe I’ll catch you around some other time.” I hold out a hoof and he shakes it eagerly, his whole body practically trembling in excitement.

Pinkie hops up beside him to give him one final big hug. “Starbreezer, I have to ask you something...”

“Yes, Pinkie?”

She pulls back from the hug and plants her front hooves on his shoulders, then looks him straight in the eyes. “Starbreezer...”

Pinkie leans closer, her mouth coming near to his. He swallows nervously, “Y-yes?”

Her nose is practically touching his as she looks deep into his eyes. “Starbreezer... did you ask them if the hotel has room service?”

I hold back laughter and see Rarity do the same. The poor guy’s face fills with confusion. “I, uh, they said no they didn’t have any but there were a few places in town that deliver.”

Pinkie nods, then bounces away from him. “Okie dokie loki!”

He shakes his head sadly, then remembers something and looks up at us. “Oh, wait! Speaking of food, I almost forgot about these.”

My ears perk up as I see him move to his trunk and open it up. I trot over and look inside to see two huge grocery bags stuffed to the brim with carrots and apples. My mouth starts watering on the spot. There is even a third bag full of candy, presumably just for Pinkie. “These are all for us?”

He nods, “Yeah, last time I met you guys you wanted food. Figured it would be the same today.”

I raise my eyebrows. “Wow, I don’t know what to say. I mean thanks, jeez, you didn’t have to do that for us dude.”

Rarity and Pinkie come over, also pouring out thanks. We divvy up the loot and add it to the other bags hanging off our backs. Another nice perk to being a pony, we can carry ridiculously heavy loads, no problem. I suppose I should feel a little insulted being used as a beast of burden like this, but nah, it’s actually pretty awesome to be able to carry this much.

Starbreezer gives us one last wave as he heads back to his car. I sigh, I wish I could give him something more to show my thanks. An idea pops in my head. “Yo, Starbreezer, hold up one second.”

“Hmm?” He stops and turns to face me. I open out a wing and select a nice, long feather. I bite down on it and pull, wincing from the painful prick as the feather gets pulled out.

I trot over to him and hand it over. “An actual pegasus feather from Miss Rainbow Dash herself.” I put it in his hand, noticing he is shaking so much he almost drops it. I chuckle. “Figure you would treasure it.” I sigh, “If I was a human, I know I would.”

Starbreezer clutches the feather to his chest and I think he tries to say thank you, but his mouth fails to work properly and it just open and closes silently. I smile once more. “Pleasure is all mine kid.”

I turn tail and move to catch up with the others, Rarity watches me with a smile as I arrive. “Well, that was nice of you.”

I shrug, “The guy gave me apples. I love apples.”

Pinkie, who, somehow is already done with an entire box of cupcakes, nods as she looks over at me. “Nice gesture Dashie. Here’s your room key by the way, room number is on the back.”

I put it in my saddle bag as Rarity speaks up. “Hang on, we only have two rooms for three ponies. Who gets their own room? Unicorn, pegasus, or Earth pony?”

Pinkie smiles. “Well, I still owe Dashie for saving my tush last night, so I think she deserves that room.” Pinkie grabs a key and tosses it to Rarity. “And you, missy, also owe Dashie for saving you, so I think that settles this.”

Rarity sighs. “Fair enough, I guess I share the room with Pinkie today.”

I grin, then check my smartphone. “Alright ladies, from the last text we got from Shining, I’d say we have about three hours or so to rest before they get here. We can regroup then?”

They both nod and we head off towards our rooms. Halfway there, Rarity has to stop for a moment to readjust her bags because she says its too heavy. I shake my head and move onto my room. Sheesh, unicorns these days, more fragile than a glass vase.

I enter my room and look around. Meh, pretty plain, really. Just a normal hotel room with two double beds and a bathroom in the back. Speaking of the bathroom though, man am I thirsty. I head over there and turn on the sink, dunking my muzzle underneath and chugging water like a racehorse.

After I have my fill I shut off the faucet and check my face out in the mirror. I look good, I still look really good. A mix of cartoonish color and realistic texture. Athletic, yet with a dash of femininity. Yeah, I’d buck me.

The sound of the front door closing makes my ears swivel. What the heck? I thought I closed that door when I walked in? My senses sharpen and I turn around and slowly creep towards the door that leads back to the bedroom. My ears pick up noises, there is definitely someone in my bedroom.

“Ahhh finally.” A feminine voice exclaims, followed by the sound of bags dropping. I raise my eyebrows in surprise and silently trot back into that room. I turn the corner just in time to see Rarity magically strip off her underwear, and then fling it behind her without looking.

I watch it sail through the air towards me, and I have to duck to avoid getting hit in the face with it. The show doesn’t stop there either, and I feel myself blush as she continues to strip. I clear my throat. “Ahem.”

She freezes halfway through pulling her garter belt off. “Dash? Oh god, I thought I was sharing a room with Pinkie.”

I trot forward. “Yikes, too much information. You meant to give that show to Pinkie?”

She blushes beat red and shakes her head as she faces me. "Pinkie said she was going to the vending machines, I wanted to change while I had some privacy!”

I walk around to her front. “Nope, no privacy here, just me.” I smile innocently.

Rarity blushes deeper and starts apologizing profusely. “Oh, jeez, I’m really sorry about that Dash.”

I wave a hoof at her, trying to dismiss the awkwardness. “Don't worry about it, you don't have anything I haven't seen before, right?” I give a soft laugh.

She just shakes her head. “True, but I still feel really embarrassed now. I don’t know what Pinkie was thinking sending me... oh.”

“Hmm?”

Rarity laughs softly. “Ah, Pinkie, getting revenge for the time I tried to get Shining to sleep with her. She played my own hotel room game against me.” Rarity smiles. “Clever girl.”

I raise my eyebrows. “There is clearly a story to be told there.”

She smiles innocently. “You would have to ask Shining.”

“Right.” I lean back, the seconds seem to tick by with the half naked Rarity just standing next to me. I rub my neck with a hoof. “So, Rarity, I'm not really into girls anymore...”

Her ears perk up and she takes a step back. “Oh, you thought I...?” She blushes red once more. “You flatter me Dash, but no, Shining and I are really close. I would never do anything with you.”

I smirk, “Ouch, I'm going to take that personally.”

She playfully hits me with a hoof. “Oh come on, you know what I meant.”

I nod, “Even since you became one, you're not into girls either? Even one as ravishing as myself?”

Rarity raises an eyebrow and looks me up and down. “Well, I don’t know if I’d go that far in describing you.”

I give my mane a shake. “Fine, how about we go with ‘a girl as dashing as myself’?”

Rarity laughs. “Puns, truly the highest form of comedy.” She glances me up and down again, “You look good Dash, but as you said, I'm not really interested in females anymore."

I sigh, “Yep, just another 'perk' of being a mare I guess.”

Rarity shrugs, then moves onto one of the beds. “It has its perks, and it has its downsides. But overall, well, I think I'm actually growing rather fond of it.”

I hop onto the other bed, actually enjoying being able to talk one on one with Rarity like this. Two random former guys, both forced into becoming mares, and both of us sort of have a guy on our minds now. It's rather comforting to be able to open up to someone in a situation so similar as mine. “I hear you Rarity. You know, I would never tell some of the others, but, well, I'm rather fond of how I turned out. Mare beats stallion any day of the week.”

Rarity uses her magic to shut off the lights. She laughs softly, “I hear you sister.”

~~~~~~

Man, now I know why Twilight was laughing so giddily when she teleported for the first time back in the apartment. When your mind is consuming itself with existential worry about who you really are, screwing around with magic and moving through space is just amazing. It's just such a cathartic release of stress and a sheer joy to literally leave everything behind and move to a new location. And if I thought stealing cotton candy was fun, oh man, it's nothing like sailing through an international border and then moving miles inland.

We are traveling remarkably fast, probably faster than most cars can even travel. We teleport to a location in our line of sight, then gallop under some tree cover until the cover ends. Then we look out in front of us across the rolling hills and spot another chunk of trees. We line of sight teleport over there, then gallop under cover for a bit as our magic sort of 'recharges'.

Though, as fast as we are, I did still have time to observe my surroundings. I pause for a second at the edge of the forest, holding up a hoof so Twilight behind me stops. I look back at her, “Are you seeing this by the way?”

She pants, somewhat out of breath and clearly not used to all this physical activity. “Seeing what? The planes?”

I cast an eye upwards to once again see a formation fly overhead. “Okay, first off, those aren't just planes, they are F-16s in battle formation. Secondly, I'm more concerned with those.” I point a hoof to my left. On the field a few miles away are columns of parked armored tanks. Behind them is a temporary military camp strewn with tent barracks and hundreds of army personnel running around.

Twilight sighs. “The tanks? What about them? They're just parked.”

I wave a hoof, “We're less than 10 miles from the Canadian border, the US doesn't usually position tanks like this! And did you see the border crossing itself? With that much barbed wire and armed guards, you would think it’s a border with the Soviet Union.” I shake my head. “I don't know how Dash pissed them off this much, but this is getting really bad. With a powder keg this big, we're one lit match away from all-out war. Way to go Dash...”

Twilight sighs, “It wasn't Dash. Well sure, her flight probably didn't help things, but are you watching the news lately? There's a lot more going on around us, countries ranging from Chile all the way to Kazakhstan are ratcheting up tension on their neighbors.”

I back under a tree as a low flying military cargo plane flies overhead. “Why? What's causing all this tension?”

She waves a hoof at us. “If I had to guess, we are. Well not just us two, but you know what I mean. Ponies. There are more of us on Earth than just us six or whatever. There are almost certainly hundreds of us now.”

I squint. “And cute, cuddly, technicolor ponies are destabilizing world peace... how?”

Twilight shakes her head. “I don't know, but I guess it just upsets the balance of things. In some place I'm sure some ponies probably went public. Once the governments of the world find out unicorns exist, and they have the potential to do things like effortlessly teleport a bomb into the White House, well, I think you can see the problem. Heck, it might not even be us ponies doing anything directly. We already know Discord sent us here, who is to say he’s not hanging around, pulling strings in the background and preparing the world for chaos here on Earth?”

More fighter jets streak across overhead and I feel my ears go flat as I feel utterly helpless. “So, what's the plan then? Sit back and watch as the new pony race unintentionally destabilizes the world order? We’re supposed to be protectors of Equestria, not destroyers of Earth.”

Twilight shrugs, and looks over at the tanks. “I have no idea what we should be doing. Well, hopefully we can figure something out and fix things before some country draws its sword to kill an asp...”

I nod at the reference. “Well, for now let's just focus on getting away from any borders. Dash said they had a safe place back in the middle of Iowa? Sounds pretty safe to me.” I point a hoof at a patch of trees about a mile away and in the opposite direction of the tanks. “Next teleport target, right there.”

~~~~~~

A beeping phone wakes me up, and I open my eyes to a dark room. “Hmm?” I mumble as I pull my head back and try to figure out where I am. Oh, right, in the hotel room with Rarity.

I read the text message on the phone strapped to my foreleg, then stumble out of bed. I then try to reach the light switch without killing myself in the dark. It's a lot harder than it sounds, since I totally forgot the hotel layout and I have four hooves that can all trip over things. I eventually stumble over someone's saddle bags, and my noisy fall wakes up my companion. “Mmm, who's there? What time is it for--.”

She abruptly stops talking, as I get up and flick on the bright overhead lights. I also wince from the sheer amount of light bearing down on us after far too little sleep. “Oh, hey Rarity? How are things?”

“Tired.” She says slowly.

I nod. “Rightfully so, that was only like three hours of sleep. Anyway, time to get up.”

I look up as Rarity slide out of the bed. Her hair is a complete mess and it has no resemblance of being curled. She really doesn’t even look anything like Rarity. She just looks like a young, white mare who still isn't entirely sure of who she is. And she looks positively adorable.

In any case, she shakes her mane and heads for the bathroom. “I need a shower.”

I glance at my phone's message to double check the time, then move to follow behind her. She enters the bathroom and starts to close the door with her magic, but I hold out a hoof and catch it before it closes. She stares at me. “A lady needs her privacy. I said I need to shower.”

I hold up the other hoof, showing her the phone strapped to that foreleg. “Shining just texted me. He said Twilight and him are only about 5 miles away, and they will be here in about 10 minutes.”

Rarity's eye widen in slight panic. “I have to clean up before they get here!”

I nod and pull the bathroom door open wider. “Exactly my point, so do I. I can't cast magic, so it takes me a good 15 minutes to clean myself with just hooves, and you probably need about as long. But if we shower together, I can clean you and you can clean me. No funny business, this is our best option.”

She squints at me. I know she realizes I have a point. Most humans probably don't realize how hard it is for a pony to actually clean themselves. Not only do ponies lack opposable thumbs, but our forehoof joints don't allow us to reach any part of our back or our flanks. Even the unicorns had it somewhat bad, as they were unable to see most of their back half and their magic relies on them seeing what they are doing.

Rarity nods slowly, “Fine, but like you said, no funny business. Just clean me and keep your eyes off my lady bits.”

I smile. “Oh Rarity, who do you take me for?.”

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