by Strata

First published

When an ancient curse turns Rainbow Dash into a changeling, can she cope? Or will the transformation drive her insane? painfully Edited by Dat Rainboom, an awesome guy.

When an ancient curse turns Rainbow Dash into a changeling, can she cope? Or will the transformation drive her insane? painfully Edited by Dat Rainboom, an awesome guy.


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-foreword; the next two chapters are purely for story development. They are not necessary.-

Before the first changeling queen, Queen Iris, stepped down from the throne, she made sure that every changeling queen, and every pony in Equestria would remember her reign of terror. The thousand-year war with princesses Luna and Celestia would not leave them the ultimate victors.

She put a curse on the land, that any future element of harmony that disrupted the plans of any future queen would be sentenced to a life of discrimination. The princess of the changelings at the time did not share her mother's desire to rule, so the curse lay forgotten as time past, and by the time the next ruler came, Queen Chrysalis, the curse was forgotten entirely. But it still remained.

Queen Iris' wish to take revenge as ultimately granted, when Twilight and the other elements disrupted the wedding, letting the curse arise upon them. Which one? Who knows? Oh wait, but I do. That would ruin the story if I told you, wouldn't it? I suppose you will have to wait then. But fear not, the answer is not far. Let the story begin.

Eye of the storm (literally)

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Almost every single one of the elements of harmony was not sleeping well. It was a windy, thunderstormy night, the one that made your mane stand up straight when a sudden wind buckles your bedroom, or a sudden gust slams against your window. It's nights like these that you just want to spend in a structurally sound house, drinking hot cocoa and chatting with your friends as the rain clatters on against the windows. But only Sugarcube corner, (lucky Pinkie) was made solidly. The other houses were swaying in the gale. But no-one hates thunderstorms at night more than Rainbow Dash.

As you know, clouds are what cause rain, and they are not secured to any solid object. So all throughout the night different parts of her house were drifting off, and she had to go and bring them back. At one point, the ceiling started raining. Just before she thought;
'Well I'm going to spend the night at Twilight's'

The front wall of her bedroom blew out, and she saw a huge twister, right in front of her house, and in the eye of the storm, was two green eyes, with narrowed slits for pupils. It cast a green light onto the house, and the eyes flashed green and disappeared. So did the twister, and even though it was still raining, it felt strangely eerie. Rainbow had glimpsed into the eyes of Queen Chrysalis before, when Cadence revealed her true identity, but these eyes, although similar, were not only unnerving, they were utterly terrifying. The worst part about them is the feel of ancientness, pure hate, like an evil that had refused to die for millions of years. She contemplated what she saw for a couple milliseconds, and then dived below the storm, and started the desperate flap to the tree library.

"It is certainly a storm."
Twilight observed, pouring hot cocoa into a mug, while a dripping wet Rainbow stood nervously in the living room, wincing at the mud prints on the floor.
Rainbow Dash mumbled in a small voice. Still staring out the window, where the twister used to be. There seemed to be a void of reality, like all existence was warping around that one point, where the eyes had appeared ten minutes prior.
She turned around, to see Twilight holding out a mug if hot cocoa
"Oh... Uh, thanks."
Twilight shrugged sleepily, and stood beside her friend, staring at where the twister had been. Her face was grim, for she also saw the twister, and the flash of green inside it. Maybe dash hadn't seen it. Maybe she was asleep. Unlikely.
"Your cocoa is getting cold."
"Huh? Okay."
She took as sip of the cocoa, and the entire top storey of the tree bent over a full 30 degrees.
Rainbow jumped back, and juggled the cocoa, trying not to spill any.
"Is that supposed to happen?"
"It is very common for the Quercus genus of multi-fibre-"
"How about Equestrian?"
Twilight rolled her eyes,
"It's meant to do that. And that's why I'm downstairs."
Rainbow relaxed, and began it stare out the window. Everything was completely still, just like the calm before the storm. You could hear the silence in the air.
Twilight opened her mouth to start a conversation, but found nothing to say. She was concerned, but she did not know why. She just needed to place her hoof on it...

Bam. It hit her like a bad mark in the final exams. (Not that Twilight would know what that felt like) the flash of green, the twister, it was the curse of the first Changeling queen, Iris. She researched it after finding a rune on a wall in a cavern that was used by changelings thousands of years ago, on a 'study abroad' program. Apparently, the first Changeling queen was actually older than even Celestia, for she had ruled the changelings in the dark ages. She was not only a queen, but a god. Immortal, and there is a theory that in some forgotten cave, she sits on a throne of thorns, waiting until the royal sisters die. She was forced into exile after the war with Celestia and Luna, but in the end, the elements of harmony defeated her. She cursed the elements, and said that if they ever interfered with her or any future changeling queen, they would undergo a transformation. Apparently, ponies that are converted into changelings hold the power of the changelings, but are a lot more superior to them. She used them to preform task regular changelings did not have the skill to complete.

She walked over to the table, and levitated a book off the shelf and onto the desk, where it hit with a slam. Rainbow, awoken from her trance, went over to see what the fuss was about. The book was extremely dusty, and on the top it wrote;
'The history of magic' in old fancy letters. Twilight flicked through the pages, chanting the alphabet as she did. she stopped when she got to 'I', and slowed down.

The legend of the Pegasus Icarus, the Icy wastelands, Illusionary spells, ah, there it was. Iris. Twilight started reading off the page, with Rainbow looking over her shoulder.
"The first Queen and God of the Changelings, Iris has existed since 2500BC (before Celestia) and was said to have ruptured retina's, so that her eyes look shattered, and terrifying. Inventing conversion of ordinary ponies into slaves that looked like changelings using curses, these slaves possessed the power of changelings, multiplied tenfold.

She waged war against the royal sisters, and before she lost, she cursed the elements of harmony that had defeated her. She said that them or any future Elements that interfered with the plans of any future Queen would feel the wrath of the curse, and undergo the transformation. The name for these were 'Irids'."

Twilight took a deep breath and turned to rainbow.
"Rainbow dash, PLEASE tell me that you did not see the flash of green."
Rainbow paused for a moment, and made a quick decision.
Twilight frowned slightly.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean I didn't see a twister, or a flash of green. I was just sleeping, when my house basically broke in two. I woke up while falling, and went to your house. It seemed a lot more stable than mine at the time"
"But why would you go to all the trouble to get here?"
"Twilight, there WAS no trouble. I'm the fastest Pegasus in ponyville, maybe even all of Equestria. Flying here was a breeze."
"You're not lying?"
"N-No. I am not."
Twilight relaxed.
"Thank Celestia for that!"
"To think, all that fuss over some silly legend. Curses probably don't even exist."
"Of course. Now I'm tired. Where do I sleep?"
"I'll just get a mattress."
But as Twilight fell asleep that night, there was still doubt in her mind.

Symptoms of madness

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You know the morning you wake up, and you know you have the flu? That horrible morning where everything seems terrible, and you just want to refuse to deal with the world?
Yeah... Maybe. But that was just how Rainbow dash felt the next morning. A combination of lack of sleep and fear of the eyes, and the added burden of not telling her friend the truth, it was not a very good night last night. That, and it was cold.
"Eh... Argh."
"That's a very comprehensive response."
Rainbow painfully sat up from the mattress she was lying on, to see twilight standing over her.
"Time for breakfast."
"OMELETTES!" Spike shouted from across the room, where he was standing on a chair near the grill, which held a saucepan that was sizzling. He was holding a container lid close to him like a shield, and jabbing the omelette with a spatula.
"Uh? Ohhhhh. Too early."
She slumped back into bed (mattress) and rolled over.
Twilight rolled her eyes, and levitated the mattress into the air. She then tipped it on it's side, depositing Rainbow onto her hooves on the wood floors of the library.
"You could always go home and spend the morning repairing your house.
"OMELETTES IT IS!" She exclaimed, trying as hard as she could to shake the sleepiness out of her eyes.

After an enjoyable yet slightly tired breakfast, and a morning spent repairing her house, Derpy Hooves came to visit, with a letter from Rarity. She wanted Rainbow to test out some high-altitude gear.

The bell tinkled as Rainbow and Rarity stepped inside the Carousel Boutique, Rarity with her reading glasses on, taking notes in pencil on a clipboard.
"My dear, what a fantastic performance! I will have to make sure it is properly insulated before I put it on the market."
The tiredness was coming back, and it was dangerously close to making her fall asleep right then and there.
Rarity put her clipboard and pen down on the table.
She nodded, and turned on the stove. In a few minutes, the tea was ready.
"Could you put in a bit more honey?"
"Feeling down, are you?"
"Yeah..." And as she said it, she rubbed her head, mostly trying to stimulate feeling between her eyes.
Rarity levitated the tea to Rainbow, who balanced it on the flat if her hoof.
"Thanks, Rares."
"No problem at all. I owe it to you anyway."
She took a sip of tea, but something strange happened. It didn't taste like anything. It wasn't hot, it wasn't cold, it wasn't sweet, it wasn't bitter. It tasted like nothing at all.
"Uh, Rares?"
"Yes darling?"
"This tea... It doesn't taste like anything."
Rarity took a taste if hers.
"Maybe it's your cup, darling, because the tea tastes fine to me."
She took Rainbow's cup, washed it out, poured more tea, and gave it back to her.
"It still tastes the same" she concluded after a whole cup of the stuff.
"How peculiar. Here- let me get something."
Rarity went over to the pantry, and got the ingredients for a sandwich, as well as a pepper shaker.
She quickly made one, and gave it to Rainbow. She took a bite.
Rarity frowned, and then put a large amount of pepper on the sandwich. Rainbow tried it again.
"Well it must be your tongue, darling, because the tea and the sandwich were both perfectly tasteful"
Rainbow shrugged, and walked towards the door, but Rarity stopped her.
"Rainbow Dash, what did you have for breakfast?"
"Omelettes, with Twi and Spike."
"And did they taste like anything?"
"Yes, but less so than usual."
"Maybe you should see a Nurse Redheart."
She nodded slowly, but on the inside, she didn't want to go back there for the fifth time in a month. She had already accidentally levelled the right wing of the hospital in a sonic rainboom, (thankfully no-one was there at the time) and she did not want to see the Nurse turn completely red again. Celestia, that was freaky.
"I am concerned only for your health, Darling, because tasteless food does not... Taste well."
"I'm fairly sure it is only a temporary condition, I see no reason to visit the nurse."
"That, or you think she still holds a grudge after you destroyed the hospital."
"I do not! Plus, I fear no pony."
Rarity rolled her eyes, as a rainbow started walking away from the Carousel Boutique.
"Whatever you see fit, Darling. Thank you for helping me today, and I hope you will get better soon. If not, it is imperative that you see the nurse."
"Yeah, yeah, stop worrying."
Rarity sighed impatiently.
"Goodbye, Rainbow Dash."
"See ya, and thanks for the tea."

She sped away, towards her house, where she re-shaped a few of the more fragile items of furniture. She spent the rest of the afternoon doing tricks, much to the delight of the watching Cutie Mark Crusaders, teaching the young Pegasi, and writing words in the sky. Soon, all if her problems disappeared in this lazy day. But when dinner rolled around, she was reminded of the events of lunch with Rarity.

As she sat down on a cloud, with a picnic blanket with various breads and grasses upon it, she licked her lips, ready for a feast. There was a shadow of a doubt in her mind, her inner shoulder demons that whispered that something was wrong. She shrugged them off, but as she bit into a mouthful of salad, the tastelessness hung in her mouth, taunting her.

She ate the rest if the meal, although it was like eating solid water, but she still felt hungry. She got some more, and ate it. She could not fill herself. She began to panic. This couldn't be a growth spurt, for she was too old for that, it couldn't be the food, for it was being sold at the market. She realised with horror that it was her-

There was something wrong.

The next morning, she went to Twilight's house on a painfully empty stomach. When she arrived, she dreaded knocking on the front door. What would she tell her? What if the curse was real? What if she was to become an Irid? It was like that teenage Pregnancy scare all over again. She had to go to her parent's house, get a home test, they were going to ask questions, it was just one big nightmare. Except this time, she didn't have to ask her parents for something that might prove she had a foal, but ask her friend whether she was cursed for life and whatnot.

Fortunately for her, owlicious had alerted his master when he saw the blue Pegasus, and twilight came to the door.

"Rainbow! Thank Celestia you're still... You."
"Rarity told me what happened, and we can't deny the truth anymore."
"What? Tell me!"
Twilight could not look her friend in the eye.
"In a few hours, you're going to turn into a changeling. And if we can't stop it, the transformation is permanent."
As she processed this, a deep pain from inside her very soul pushed everything out of the way, and in seconds Rainbow felt like her whole body was on fire. She cried out, and her eyes flashed green, before she fell, unconscious on the ground outside Twilight's house.

How can I live like this?

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The faint beeping sound of a heart monitor woke Rainbow from her slumber.
Her memory was vague, and shattered. It seemed a corner of her head had been occupied by some kind of voice, the same one that whispered doubts to her that fateful picnic on the clouds.

She tried to get up but was pushed back into the bed by a firm pair of hooves.
"Ya need some rest, sugarcube. Th' nurse hasn't said ya could get out of bed yet."
Her eyes slowly drifted open, the bright lights above her creating glowing spheres in her vision. The lights were all she saw at first. Tilting her head downwards, she saw her friends, standing there, smiling nervously. Pinkie would not look her in the eye. Fluttershy just stared at the ground.

"You seem healthy, good vital signs, steady breathing, all fine, except for... That."
Nurse Redheart was standing by the heart monitor, writing down notes with a special tool that fit neatly on her hoof. She was looking at the paper without obvious emotion, but there was sorrow in her eyes. Rainbow couldn't believe it. Nurse Redheart felt sorry for her.
"That? What do you mean?"
"The mirror says it all."
She raised her eyebrows at twilight, who levitated a small mirror in front if Rainbow.

Her eyes went even wider.

She was herself, her face was distinguishable, but she had no fur, just coal black armour plating. Her usually bright hair was a dull green, and riddled with holes. So were her hooves. Two of her teeth were unusually long and sharp, and her wings were that of a changeling.
Strangely enough, her eyes were normal, but of green hue.

Twilight winced, and put the mirror back on the table.
"It looks bad, I know but you could get used to it, maybe?"
She did not answer. It was a chilling feeling, living as you always did until a certain moment in time. It is like your entire life, you were you, and that was the way you liked it, but suddenly, everything changed. It would feel alien, if someone around you was something else. But it would leave deep scars if it were you that was different. The very psychological aspect of it pains me to think about. But ah, this story isn't about me. Moving on!
"I need some time."
"if you need us, we'll be there."
Twilight walked out of the room, with the other elements following.
Before she left, Twilight glanced over her shoulder, pausing for a moment as if about to say something, but then she bowed her head and left the room.

When the hoof-steps had died away, Rainbow sighed. She then pulled the cord away from her hoof and got out of bed.
"Whoa! I haven't finished my examination yet!" The nurse exclaimed.
"I'll pass." She said, and experimentally moved her new wings up and down.
"You can't just leave. There are others in the hall. They'll stop you."
"Who says I'm using he hall?"
The nurse stopped for a moment, about to say something. She began to put how the hall was the only escape into words, but Rainbow had already rocketed out of he room, through the open window, and out over Ponyville.
"Pegasi..." The nurse growled, looking angrily out to the rapidly disappearing former patient.
"Always flying out windows."
She marched into the hall, to inform the doctor how their patient 'passed' on an examination. And she was in no mood to deal with her again today.

Rainbow soared over the town, buzzing her new wings, although it was hard work to learn how to fly again by practice. she saw all the happy ponies going about town, doing their daily duties, and she realised she may not fit into that crowd ever again. She sighed, and flipped onto her back, allowing her to glide upside-down until she landed in a soft heap on a cloud. Deeply exhaling, she closed her eyes, and let reality slip away.

"Hey, rainbow? Rainbow Dash?"
She slowly opened her eyes to see a yellow Pegasus standing in above her.
"Fluttershy? It's the middle of the night, what are you doing?"
She noticed for the first time the slight hissing note to her voice.
"You've been unconscious for three weeks."
The news hit her like a apple in her face, chucked by an enraged applejack, after she found a certain Pegasus had eaten most of the apples in the cart and fallen asleep in the barn. she had a sore nose for days.
Unconscious? Three weeks? Ponies can't survive without sustenance for three weeks. What happened? Who missed her? The questions buzzed around in her head like fireflies.
"When the nurse said that you left, we got worried, but we couldn't find you anywhere. It was only after Soarin' came to the Mayor in a panic, reporting a changeling on the clouds did we realise that it was you.

There was a moment of silence. Neither of them were sure what to say. Fluttershy broke the momentary quiet.
"You can't keep living like this!"
Rainbow sighed, and sat up on the cloud.
"Then what should I do?"
"I... Don't know. You might just want to mix with ordinary ponies."
"Do you really think that's a good idea?"
Fluttershy turned her head away, not sure what to say.
"I think you just need to come back to society."
"I don't think so. I'm happy just where I am."
"Are you sure of that?"
"Yeah! Now if you'll excuse me, I have sleeping to be done."
"Well okay, Rainbow, but it's for your own good."
"Wait, what?"
Just as the words escaped her mouth Fluttershy ducked under the cloud, and pushed it from one end, making it tip over and Rainbow fall out.
With a yell she tried to stop falling, but it's a lot harder to stop yourself mid-air without feathered wings. Just as she was about to hit the ground, Fluttershy pushed a cloud beneath her, which she rather non-elegantly bounced off and hit the ground with an earthy thud.

"Ow." That was an accurate summary of what happened. She opened one eye painfully, and looked around where she had landed. It was Applejack's farm.
Fluttershy nervously landed next to Rainbow, looking rather embarrassed.
"Are you going to be okay?"
"I've taken harder knocks."
She got up and brushed the pebbles off her armour.
"You need to see your friends, we all miss you."
She sighed in surrender.
"Fine. I just don't know how to re-enter society."
"Maybe you should spend the night in the barn, then we could gather our friends here in the morning to figure something out."
Rainbow nodded, and trudged wearily into the barn.

Fluttershy started to go home, but she paused for a moment. Shaking her head, she told herself that she needed to go home. Angel was going to have to be fed. But her brain told her otherwise. Her mind was a strange thing, it told her to shy away from attention, confrontation, and all things frightening. She had no interest in anything else. She was kind by nature, but never brave or outrageous. Yet she could not bring herself to turn around and walk home.

Looking left and right, she quickly walked towards the barn, and lay down in the hay beside Rainbow.
The yellow Pegasus put her hoof over her pursed lips to indicate that 'she wasn't there.' Rainbow got the message and smiled, nestling deeper into the soft hay. A cold gust blew trough the barn and under her armour, she shivered. She tried hard not to make to obvious, though. Fluttershy noticed. She waited for a moment, before experimentally wrapping her right wing around Dash's body. And the shivering stopped.

Not what I seem

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Applejack woke to the sound of the cock crowing, as usual. She got up, woke Applebloom, and gave her a list of chores. She put the most important at the top, for the filly had a habit of doing the first few and then running off to join Sweetie and Scoot. Not that Jack disliked it. Hell, she was so determined to find her mark, she'd get up at five AM every morning to go out and try to find her calling. And, It was apples. She was happy with her idyllic life, but she was getting bored.

That was until a certain purple unicorn came to see if the catering was in order. After that point, her life had become a vortex of excitement, and the farm was never boring. When she wasn't fighting Discord or beating up changelings, she was harvesting apples and watching her little sister grow. She had overcome many evils in her days as the Element of Honesty, but none of them had changed anyone. Except discord. But that was temporary. She knew she would have to face the Pegasi sleeping in the barn.

She had seen them sneak in last night, and she did nothing. Was she uncomfortable about one of her best friends becoming a Changeling? (Or Irid, as miss scientist would say) perhaps she was. Hell, of course she was.

As she trudged down, a reassuring thought came to mind. She may be changed, but she is not alone. She sighed at herself. 'I'm such a sentimental slob.' Pushing the doors open, she walked inside, and hollered at the top of her lungs:

Abut of tired grumbling and the sound of hay rustling and the two got up.
"If y'all want to stay for breakfast, I got some chores fer you two."
She then placed a list at the door and briskly walked out.

The first few minutes were spent getting over the tiredness, and the next thirty was collecting apples. Fluttershy had to feed Angel, so she headed off. An hour of hard work int he field was tiring enough, so when 7 o'clock came, Rainbow was glad to have breakfast. Just as she was about to speed into the house, the orange pony stopped her.

"Hang on, now, sugarcube. Ah know what yer goin through, but mah family don't know yet. Ya may have to-"
She gestured at Dash's general area.
"-look different."
"I don't know how, Jack. If I did, I would've already tried that."
"Well try again, cuz black stands out on a blue sky like a Ursa Major walkin' th' streets a' ponyville."
She raised an eyebrow.
"You're saying?"
"Ya can't fly home, and ya can't show up in mah house all change-like."
"I have another problem. Food doesn't... I dunno, work?"

Applejack frowned at that. It made sense, but it made things more difficult.
"Okay, try to become Rares."
"Well, I don't know, but just start by tryin' to get a white coat."
She tried indeed, and after a bit if effort, waves if green shimmered down the black armour of Dash's body, turning it white and shortly furred.

Spurred on by her success, she tried to replicate the unicorn horn, and then the blue eyes. Next was the purple tail, which was a bit of a problem. She could get the 'rarity-style' mane, but styling it was harder. She couldn't do much with it, so she accepted it as a subtle difference.

With a goodbye to Jack, she set off down the road. It took her a few trips and falls to remind herself that she hadn't any wings. Walking down, it was a surreal experience. In the bustling streets if ponyville, many of Rarity's friends, people Rainbow didn't know, were greeting her. She tried to smile back and wave, but it felt unnatural.



But she had to put it behind her, for she just needed to get to the library and Twilight would fix things. Right?

She sure hoped so.

But, a mere short canter away from the library, she was cut off.
"Hey sis!"
She would recognise that voice anywhere. It was the high, cute, but somewhat incessant voice of Sweetie Belle. This was the absolute worst time. She hadn't got her unicorn friend's speaking patterns right, she had no idea where the real Rarity had got to, and those fillies were going to ask something of her which they were going to use in an extremely dangerous act. They always do.

Sweetie started. "So-"
Applebloom interrupted. "We need to to use your cupboard, miss Rares."
Scootatloo completed the sentence. "And your fainting couch!"

Rainbow stuttered, trying to find something to say.
"Well...of course! Dears..."
"Really? Even when we need to hide the Que-" before Applebloom could finish, Scoot slapped a hoof over her mouth. "She meant we need to hide the... Um.... Queue. There's a big queue of people waiting for the Carousel Boutique and we know you will come and attend to them soon but for now we need to hide them."

There was a moment of silence before the cutie mark crusaders all smiled extremely widely and innocently.

Normally, this situation would be very alarming and she would have to attend to it right away, but for now, she had to get to the library, which was painfully close.
"Yes, dears... You can have- ah, borrow, those things."
Sweetie jumped, smiling widely, for this elaborate scheme they had planned was bound to get them their cutie marks. They had tried everything, anyway.
Sweetie bounded up to Rainbow's face height and gave her a small kiss on the cheek, before galloping off with her friends in the direction of the Boutique.

As they left, there was a nagging sensation, and a sphere of light danced in front of her eyes, like when you stare at the sun without any protection. The light strengthened, and she realised that it was a glowing golden sphere of soft light. She experimentally touched it, but her hoof went right through. A thought occurred to her, and she took a small bit out of it. A warm, converting sensation filled her, and she ate the whole thing. For the first time in months, she had felt fully fed. There was a small cord attached to it, that was jerked away, as Sweetie ran out of sight.

Even though she was full, the act of stealing Sweetie's live for her sister felt alien to her. She couldn't complain, though.

for the first time in what seemed like forever, she felt satisfied.

As she knocked on the door to Twi's house, the small voice at the back of her mind whispered to her again.
'You have to feed, rainbow dash.'