A Different Perspective

Long Path, an earth pony living in Canterlot, and his best friend, a griffon named Free Agent, set out in the company of Twilight Sparkle to visit various places and species to look into what makes them different, and hopefully learn how to get along with them better. Things rarely go to plan though, and along the way, they discover things about themselves, and find love, drama, and laughter. Then Chrysalis changes everything, and the fate of the whole world might be at stake. Their lives will never be the same!
This story is set mostly after the events of Conversations in a Canterlot Cafe and builds on the fanon of the series, especially changelings, so you might want to read those stories first for background material.

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/246414/a-different-perspective

1Likes
0Comments
3438Views
AA

19. Chapter 15: Like Sand Through An Hourglass... Part 2

“Are you part pony too?”

“A little, but I’m a lot of one other species. Watch!” With a flare of green magic fire, Free transformed into his least favorite form – his natural one.

Streak gaped in surprise for a long moment before asking, “What are you?”

“I’m what is called a changeling. I was brought up as a griffon though, but I can take other forms.” Free changed into a pegasus. “Hi, I’m Firetail,” he said with his usual cheeky grin.

“Whoa! That’s so cool! Can I do that too?”

Free laughed. “No, I’m afraid not. You need to be born this way.”

“Aw!” Streak’s disappointment lasted only a few seconds though. “I have an awesome new family though. Thanks, everyone. This is the best day of my life!”

# # #

Free untied his caste cape and hooked it up on the coat rack.

“Phew! A bit warm for capes today,” he commented to Proper Place.

“Then why wear one? Does it really matter that much to you to show off your caste membership and rank?”

“Of course it does! At least in griffon society.”

“I’ve noticed that only the upper echelon bother with the things. Are you sure that there isn’t another reason that you wear it?”

Free grinned. “Heck, yeah! It makes me look cool!”

Proper Place just arched a skeptical eyebrow.

Free rolled his eyes. “Okay, okay! It’s also because I get tired of griffs bugging me about my cutie mark.”

“Why don’t you just conceal it when you go out?”

“You think I wouldn’t if I could? No matter what form I take, it’s always there!”

Proper Place looked surprised. “You’re saying that not even illusion can hide it?”

“Say what?” Free said in perplexed tone. “Am I supposed to go out and get a cutie mark concealment spell, or something?”

“No – just use your illusion power.”

Free stared at him blankly. “What power?”

“Surely you can’t be serious?”

“I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.”

The quip threw the green changeling for a moment, but he decided to ignore it and pursue the important part. “I know that you were raised as a griffon and only learned that you were a changeling many years later, but surel… but you must have learned about illusions at the same time as shape-changing?”

Free shook his head. “Learning that I’m a changeling was a shock, and frankly I didn’t want to have anything to do with it beyond learning the bare minimum.”

“Wow. I’m truly amazed. Illusion is how we can make ourselves look like something that we can’t physically transform into. For example, we’re limited by our mass, so we can compress our bodies no smaller than about a six year old foal, but more importantly we also have a limit to how big we can get. I would have a hard time trying to imitate Princess Celestia for example, and yet I can do this….”

With a flare of magic fire, Proper Place suddenly grew enormously to practically fill the room, forcing Free to step back away from the gigantic pegasus changeling.

“Whoa! Don’t tread on me!” Free said half-seriously.

“I couldn’t if I wanted to. This size is all illusion. Like I said, there’s a hard limit on just how big our physical transformations can be.” He shrank down to normal size again. “However, that’s hardly the only use for illusions. For example….” He gestured to his flank, and his cutie mark changed to one consisting of four books marked A, B, C, and D stacked in alphabetical order. “That was going to be my alternative mark. I didn’t transform to show you it though – it’s an illusion on top of my current one. In the same way, you could make your cutie mark disappear and you’d be a blank flank again.”

“Tell me how to do it!” Free demanded.

# # #

Twilight idly traced the pattern of Free’s cutie mark as they rested after making love. “Y’know, there’s probably a lot more to your cutie mark than we originally thought,” she commented.

“How so?” Free replied with mild curiosity.

“Well, we thought that you got it because of your lust-filled craze, but now that we know that you’re a queen changeling, it could be more indicative of your inherent urge to breed for the hive, brought forth by your overexposure to the Crystal Heart.”

Free shuddered. “Don’t remind me. I don’t see my destiny as an egg-laying factory for changelings.”

“I thought you had come to terms with what you are by now?”

“I accept what I am, but it doesn’t mean that it’s who I am. I’m still Free Agent, son of a griffon, and the bastard lucky enough to have won the heart of an alicorn princess.”

Twilight giggled. “Yes, that sums you up well. And yet, it still leaves so many questions unanswered. You’re still the first changeling that we know of to get a cutie mark. We’re pretty sure still that it’s because you were in pony form at the time, but you’re hardly the first queen to have taken a pony form.”

“But am I the first to do so near the Crystal Heart?”

“Since the Crystal Empire returned? Almost certainly. Before it disappeared?” Twilight shrugged. “We have no way of knowing for sure.”

“It wouldn’t have anything to do with me being a mutant, could it?”

“It’s certainly a possibility that we can’t eliminate at this time.”

“Well I’d say it’s a strong possibility. After all, how many non-equines have ever gotten a cutie mark? Zero, I believe, and I am half changeling, half griffon, and no pony.”

“That’s not entirely accurate,” Twilight demurred.

“Huh? What do you mean?”

“From what Dianthia told us about queens breeding heirs, it’s likely to the point of certainty that Chrysalis’ mother conceived her daughter the same way, and the sire was extremely likely to have been a pony. In other words, your grandfather was a pony.”

Free chuckled. “Heh! How about that? I wonder what type? Maybe a pegasus? It’s my favorite pony form, and that might be the reason – just like Iridia takes after her sire.”

“Unless you ever get to ask Chrysalis, and providing she herself knows, you might never know for sure.”

“Eh – it’s not as if it matters. I’m always what I want to be anyway.”

Twilight giggled. “Yeah – a griffon with a cutie mark!”

“Oh, shut up. I’m used to it by now.”

“Is that why you still wear that caste cape of yours all the time?” Twilight asked with a sly grin.

“Like I told Proper Place, it’s not the cutie mark that bothers me – it’s all the griffons who won’t stop gawking at it and bugging me about it! Besides, I can dispense with the cape now anyway.”

“Why is that?”

“Watch the cutie mark.”

Before Twilight’s gaze, the indelible mark faded from view to leave unblemished fur.

Twilight looked at Free in consternation. “You got rid of your cutie mark? How?”

Free smirked. “No, I didn’t get rid of it. Proper Place educated me on the use of illusion in shape-changing. Basically you’re looking at an illusion of what my fur would look like without the cutie mark.”

“Oh! That makes sense. Why didn’t you ever do that before?”

“Like I said, Proper had to teach me. I must be the most uneducated changeling in the world! I’ve learned so much about myself in just a few months. It makes me regret a little that I turned my back on it when I was younger.”

“Weren’t you curious back then?”

“No, I was disgusted to realize that I was a freak, and not even a real griffon. If it wasn’t for my loving parents, and for Path especially, I don’t know how I would have coped. Of course now I know that I really am part griffon, and that’s been a major source of comfort to me, and it’s helped me cope with learning more about my nature.”

“But not enough to want to pursue it further?”

“Twi – I might have been born a changeling, but I don’t see it as my destiny. You, Path, this House - those are parts of my destiny, not a hive.”

Twilight snuggled up to him. “I like that. It’s something that you’re making for yourself rather than having it hoofed to you.”

“Hey – you earned your wings, and so can I! Metaphorically speaking, of course,” he added with a grin.

“Want to earn some more?” Twilight asked while nibbling on his neck.

“Again? We have to get up early for the flight back to Equestria tomorrow.”

“We can make up for the sleep on the trip. Right now, your princess wants some more loving.”

“By your command, Your Highness,” he replied with a tender smile.

# # #

The long flight back to Equestria was a bit of a vacation for both Free and Twilight. Both had thrown themselves into their new roles as teachers and role models for the new House school, and they welcomed a break. Or at least Free did.

“Twi, for Celestia’s sake, stop preparing lessons for when you get back, and relax a bit!”

Twilight pushed back from the desk a little sheepishly. “Sorry, it’s a habit that’s hard to break.”

Free put a wing around her and gave her a hug. “I know, and you wouldn’t be you if you stopped completely, but even over-achieving alicorns need to relax now and then. I was thinking of taking Streak for a flight. Wanna come along?”

“That sounds like fun, and I could do with some fresh air.” She closed her reference books and neatly stacked them and her notes to one side. “Okay, I’m ready. Where do you think Streak is at the moment?”

“Probably the same place he’s been since we left Griffonia.”

“The bridge?”

“Yep. He’s fascinated by how the airship is run.”

“It’s a good thing that Captain Fairweather is tolerant of having a foal on the bridge,” Twilight said as they started heading that way.

“Probably because he keeps his hooves off everything and pays attention to what he’s told. I think he doesn’t want to make us regret bringing him along with us to Equestria.”

“There’s no real risk of that; it’ll be good for his education,” Twilight replied.

“It’ll be fun,” Free retorted.

“Education is fun!”

“Am I going to have to do an intervention, Sparkles?”

Twilight merely giggled and poked her tongue out at him.

They found Streak on the bridge as expected, listening intently to Captain Fairweather’s explanation of the function and use of one of the instruments. They waited until she was finished before interrupting.

“Hey, Streak – wanna go out for a flight?”

“Sure, Free! Thanks, Captain,” the colt replied as he joined the two.

They went to the observation deck where Free surreptitiously increased his size. “Climb aboard,” he instructed as he knelt down.

Streak scrambled onto Free’s back, settling himself between the griffon’s wings.

“Ready!”

“Let’s go then!” Free leaped over the railing, closely followed by Twilight. While they had done this before back in Griffonia, they always played it safe and had Twilight ready to catch the colt in case of emergencies.

Streak squealed in delight as Free power-dived, and then pulled up sharply into a high-gee climb. After some low-risk aerobatics, he then beat strongly for a nearby cloudbank, coming to a landing on a puffy cumulus facing the dirigible.

“How do you like the view, Streak?”

“It’s great! Can we get a closer look at the airship from above? I haven’t seen that yet.”

“Sure, we can do that.”

Streak reached out with a forehoof to a puff of cloud within his reach, only to have it whirl away insubstantially. “How do you stand on the clouds?”

“It’s part of our flight magic. All griffons and pegasi can do it,” Free replied.

“And alicorns,” Streak pointed out.

Twilight said, “Alicorns have the abilities of all the pony types, so it’s the pegasus in me that has the ability.”

“I wish that I could do that too, but I’m only an earth pony.”

“I can’t run half as fast as you despite being an alicorn,” Twilight pointed out.

Streak’s smile brightened. “Yeah, because nopony is faster than me!”

“Ooh, you’re going to love meeting Rainbow Dash,” Twilight said with a knowing smile.

“Let’s give you that look at the Skylark,” Free said, spreading his wings and taking off in pursuit of the airship.

“Yeah!” Streak yelled in excitement.

Half an hour later, they finished their flight and Streak trotted off to tell Fairweather all about it.

Free watched him go with a grin on his face. “That was fun. Adopting Streak into the herd was a great idea. One day, we’re going to have a foal just like him.”

Twilight smiled slyly. “Seems I’ve already got two on my hooves. I’m in no hurry for another.”

“Hey! Is that a crack at me? Oh, it is on, Princess!” He mock-growled while reaching out with his talons.

With a shriek of laughter, Twilight turned and made her escape.

Free grinned and gave chase. Someone was in for a severe tickling!

# # #

Streak watched in wide-eyed wonder as they closed in on Canterlot. He was sitting in the captain’s chair as the mare gave a steady stream of orders to maneuver the dirigible around the castle and down to the landing field outside the city. Eventually there was a gentle bump as the airship touched down.

“All hooves – secure stations!” Fairweather ordered before turning to the colt. “End of the journey, my young pilot,” she said with a smile.

Streak saluted her and said, “Thank you, Captain!”

“Better get going. Musn’t keep the princess waiting.”

“Yes, ma’am! Seeya!”

Streak dashed off at his usual breakneck speed as the mare watched him fondly.

“Feeling a bit maternal, Captain?” a crewmare asked.

“Perhaps, and mind your own business, Lieutenant,” she replied curtly, but the smile never left her face. ‘Perhaps it’s time that Quiet Words and I take our relationship to the next level?

Twilight and Free were waiting for Streak at the passageway to the boarding ramp. They exited together and started off for the castle. The colt’s head kept swiveling around while trying to take in all the new sights.

“So many ponies!” he said in awe. “Why are there so many with horns?”

“Canterlot was established mainly by unicorns, and it remains a city dominated by unicorn families,” Twilight explained. “I grew up here before I moved to Ponyville, and before I became an alicorn. Of course, you’ll find other types of ponies here, as well as a few griffons.”

“Cool!” He then barraged them with questions about just about everything he saw along the route.

At the castle gate, the Royal Guards saluted and one stepped up to say, “Welcome back, Princess Sparkle.”

“Thank you.” Twilight beckoned Streak forward. “Sergeant, this is Blue Streak whom we have adopted into our herd. He is authorized to be anywhere in the castle with the normal exceptions. Please inform the Captain of the Guard to pass the word around.”

“It shall be done, Your Highness.”

They then proceeded inside, and Streak resumed his questions.

“Where are we going now?”

“We’re going to the throne room. Princess Celestia is expecting us.”

“That’s the princess in charge, right? What about the other one?”

“Princess Luna is probably asleep right now. You’ll get to meet her later.”

When they reached the throne room doors, Twilight asked Streak to put a hold on his questions for the moment. The Royal Guards at the door nodded respectfully and allowed them inside. They marched up the thick red carpet that led to the throne room, and Streak’s mouth dropped open in awe.

“That’s the biggest pony I’ve ever seen in my life!” he said without taking his eyes off the majestic alicorn sitting on her throne.

Celestia smiled. “Hello there, my little pony. You must be Blue Streak. Twilight has told me much about you,” she said in Griffish.

“I… I…” For once, the colt was lost for words.

Twilight nudged him and said in a loud whisper, “Just say hello.”

“Hello, Princess!” he squeaked out.

“Welcome, Blue Streak. Those are very interesting shoes that you’re wearing. I can feel the magic in them.”

Streak snapped out of his awestruck mood and proudly held one up for the alicorn to better see. “They’re my birthday present. They help me run faster. Wanna see?”

“Oh yes, but not right this moment. I don’t think my throne room is a very good running track.”

“Oh. Right.”

Celestia turned her attention to the others. “Welcome back, Twilight, and to you too, Free Agent. I trust that you had a pleasant journey?”

“It was quite enjoyable,” Twilight replied.

“Yeah,” Free said, “but I’m looking forward to having some fun back in the old home town. Had any good parties lately, Celestia?”

The princess allowed herself a small smirk. “A few, but they weren’t as much fun without a certain griffon there to stir them up a bit.”

“Naturally! I think we owe you a day out. Luna has had her turn, so what do you want to do?”

Celestia looked surprised. “I don’t know if that’s a practical idea. There’s so much on my schedule right now.”

“Luna made time,” Free pointed out.

“My sister has less on her schedule.”

“Your sister knows how to open her schedule.”

“I find it difficult to go out with everypony worrying about what I want and making me uncomfortable by going out of their way to please me.”

“Luna went to dinner with us as she is, and then dressed up as a leathermare.”

“I’m not dressing as a leathermare!”

“Why not? You might enjoy it!”

“I’m thinking more like a long, slinky evening gown.”

Free blinked in surprise, and then a huge grin split his face. “You’re on, Princess!”

Celestia shook her head. “No, not Princess. You’ll be taking Sunny Skies out on the town.”

“Huh?”

Twilight smiled knowingly. “Don’t worry about it, Free. Will tonight be okay, Celestia?”

“That would be best. We have a busy couple of days ahead of us tomorrow.”

“We were planning to leave for a night out on the town about six o’clock. You will have set the sun by then.”

“I’ll be ready at the usual place,” Celestia replied.

“We’ll be looking forward to it. Come on, Free.”

Twilight started heading out of the throne room, with Free and Streak following suit.

Free said, “Celestia is very good at containing her emotions, but I get the feeling that I have maneuvered myself into doing exactly what she wanted.”

“Celestia has had centuries of experience with that sort of thing. Did you think that you would so easily get her to do what you wanted?”

“Fair point, but what did she mean by taking Sunny Skies? A pseudonym isn’t going to make her any less conspicuous.”

“You’ll see,” Twilight replied enigmatically.

“What about me?” Streak asked.

“You get to go to a play that I hear is popular with foals at the moment. After that, you go to bed. You’re only eleven years old still.”

“Aw! But it’s my first night in Canterlot!”

“There will be several more before we return to Griffonia. Free will be spending a lot of time with you over the next few days while I take care of my princess duties. You won’t miss out on anything.”

Streak gave a dramatic sigh. “Okay.” Then he smiled slyly. “Who’s going to understand me? Who’s going to tuck me in later?”

Free grinned. “Guess what, champ? My mother is going to foalsit you. Not only does she speak Griffish, but she sure knows how to make cheeky foals behave.”

Streak’s face fell. “Oh.”

Free and Twilight chuckled at the colt’s dismay at being outmaneuvered.

# # #

“Are you ready yet, Twi?” Free called out to the bedroom.

“All set,” Twilight said, stepping out and stopping to pose. She was wearing an attractive evening dress that covered over her wings, and she had her hair done up in a different style from her normal bangs.

“Wow! If I had lips, I would wolf whistle right now, but you’ll have to settle for a hubba-hubba!”

“Speaking of lips, could you change into your unicorn form, please? Oh, and make your size a little bit bigger than me.”

“Uh… sure.” He did so. “How’s that?”

“Good. Oh, wait. Could you use illusion to change your cutie mark?”

“Sounds like we’re going incognito. Okay, I often used to use this cutie mark when I posed as a pony before we met.” Free concentrated, and an image of a bass clef covered over Free’s real mark. “As a musician, it was obvious what it was meant to represent.”

“That works fine. Now, I had a formal jacket sent here for you. Have you seen it?”

“Oh, that’s why it was too big for me before I transformed – you planned for me to increase my size. I’ll go put it on.” He did so, and then asked, “How do I look?”

“Like a million bits, dear. Now let’s go or we’ll be tardy.”

“Hey, I’m not the one who was primping for an hour.”

“We’re exactly on my schedule, as long as we leave right now,” she urged.

Free decided that now was not the time to tease her with a bit of procrastination. He was still curious about what Celestia was going to do, although considering what Twilight had done and his present alter ego, he suspected something in the same vein.

“Where are we headed, Twi?”

“Stick to calling me Sparkles tonight, Firetail. We’re heading for the rose garden.”

“Ooh! Secret moonlight rendezvous in the palace garden – I like this already!”

Twilight shared a smile with him. “Celestia used to do this occasionally when she wanted to get away from the court for a while. Sunny Skies is her secret alter ego. She shared that secret with me one day after I had become a princess, and was having a bit of difficulty dealing with the constant demands of the office. We've had a mare’s night out more than once since then, and they've really helped us both. The rose garden is our normal rendezvous point. It’s in line of sight of Celestia’s balcony, so she can tell if anypony is there before teleporting down so that she can elude her Royal Guard for the night.”

Free chuckled. “There’s something really amusing about the idea of a princess sneaking out of her room like a naughty teenage filly.”

“That only made it more fun.”

When they reached the rose garden, they found a white unicorn with pink mane and tail there. While she was much larger than an average unicorn, she certainly was not as large as Celestia, and the sleek and slinky red evening gown that she was wearing certainly did not conceal wings like Twilight’s did. Free’s doubts as to who she was were quickly allayed though when Twilight greeted her.

“Hi, Sunny! You remember my coltfriend, Firetail, I hope?”

“I do,” the unicorn replied in Celestia’s distinct voice. “You’re looking particularly fine tonight, Firetail.”

Free stared at Sunny for a moment before saying, “Okay, you’re no changeling, so how did you do it?”

Celestia laughed. “By suppressing my magic, my mane loses its ethereal flow and reverts to its natural color, and my size reduces to this. I also cast an invisibility spell on my wings. Goodbye alicorn, and hello unicorn.”

“So now it will be just three fairly ordinary unicorns going out together,” Twilight said smugly.

Free grinned. “A stallion out on the town with his marefriends – I’m going to enjoy this! Where to, ladies?”

“Luna highly recommended the theater restaurant that you patronized, so I would like to try that also,” Celestia/Sunny replied.

“Aw! If I had known that we’d be doing this, I would have worked up an act,” Free/Firetail lamented.

“Which is probably why you weren’t told in advance,” Twilight/Sparkles replied.

“Spoilsport!”

# # #

Without the hassle of the recognition that had caused Luna some trouble, the threesome had no trouble being seated and served in the venue’s normal competent and pleasing manner.

During the meal, Sunny surprised the others by getting the attention of a waiter, and asking to be given the opportunity to sing for her supper. Sparkles gaped in astonishment.

“You’re really going to sing? How long have you planning to do that?”

“Since my sister told me how much fun that she had doing it. I figure that it was worth trying for myself.”

Firetail said, “I suppose you’re going to tell us that you even have a record in your purse, rather than using one of the theater's stock ones?”

“Of course,” she replied smugly. “You don’t get to my age and not know how to plan ahead.”

It wasn’t until some time after they’d had their desserts that Sunny was called up to the stage. She gave the stage hand the record with the music she wanted to sing to, and then stepped up to the microphone. Centuries of experience gave her stage presence, and she quickly gained the audience’s attention.

“Good evening, mares and stallions. My name is Sunny Skies, and I would like to invoke a bygone era of smoky nightclubs and torch singers. I hope you like smooth jazz.”

She nodded to the stage hand, and he started the record. A mellow trumpet began and Sunny closed her eyes and started swaying softly to the beat. Then she began to sing:

“I love the chase, 'til the minute I win it
A beautiful face 'til there's love for me in it
Give me your heart and baby I'll bill it
I love the chase, 'til the minute I win it
A beautiful face 'til there's love for me in it
Give me your heart and baby I'll bill it
'cause I always kill the things I love.”

Firetail’s jaw had dropped in surprise, matched by an equally surprised Sparkles.

   

 

“Some folk would die for the sake of another
Lay down their life for their sisters and brothers
For me sacrifice is something quite other
'cause I love to kill the things I love.”

“The look in your eyes will turn to surprise
As you feel the pain and you realize
The one hurting you is somebody who
Once said "I love you".”

“Somebody we'll pay back all we've borrowed
What we loved today we'll lose tomorrow
But I won't need to wait for my share of sorrow
Because I always kill the things I love.”

“But I won't need to wait for my share of sorrow
Because I already killed the things I love.”

(I Always Kill) The Things I Love – LA Noire [original soundtrack]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdGkCczJ7Jo&index=24&list=PLC3B9E742A400E5A1

The music faded out, and Sunny bowed. The audience broke into strong applause, and Sunny thanked them before making her way off the stage and back to her table.

“Well, what did you think?” she asked her dinner companions.

“That song… it’s just not you at all, but you did it so well!” exclaimed Sparkles.

Sunny grinned. “That was the whole point. I’m totally letting myself go for tonight. Tomorrow I’ll be the same proper and restrained person that I normally am, but just for this evening, I get to be a sexy and slightly wicked mare.”

Firetail said, “Sparkles, it’s lucky that I fell in love with you already, because otherwise Sunny might have just stolen my heart!”

“I think you have a big enough herd already,” Sunny replied with a smile.

“Don’t tempt him!” Sparkles warned, half-seriously. “Stranger things have happened.”

“Duly noted. So, who’s up for some ballroom dancing?”

# # #

Despite the late night, Twilight and Free rose early in order to have breakfast and get to the station in time to meet the train from the Crystal Empire. Princess Cadance was coming to join the rest of the princesses for top level talks with representatives from neighboring countries.

Among the issues being discussed were the increasing public interactions of changelings with the local populations. While Equestria had been making big strides in that matter, other nations were only just coming to terms with the fact that there were likely many changelings living and working among them, and they needed to formulate policies on dealing with that if it became an issue. As Equestria’s foremost authority on changeling-pony relationships, Twilight’s presence had been required, hence her return from Griffonia. Queen Dianthia also made an appearance at the talks, arriving disguised as pegasus.

However, while that was the highest priority reason, it wasn’t the only one, nor necessarily the most important. Less urgent issues were examined and discussed, decisions made, and bureaucratic details dealt with. It did highlight Twilight’s need to commute more often to cope with her obligations in a more timely manner, so when she finally had some free time after a few days of hectic work, she paid a visit to the Royal Engineering Service so that she could present the plans that she and Techbird had been working on for several weeks. She brought along with her a sample of the resinous materials that Dianthia had her drones supply. There was a lot of excitement among the engineers as they realized that many of the technical problems that had been holding up the construction of the new airship design had been solved with a combination of griffon technology, changeling materials, and advanced magical systems designed by Twilight. That evening, Free and Streak had to virtually drag the alicorn away for dinner.

During the days that Twilight had been busy, Free was enjoying seeing family and friends again, and introducing them to Blue Streak. He took the colt on a tour of Canterlot, mindful of Twilight’s instructions that at least some of it had to be educational. Dinners were eaten at Free’s parents’ home at Zephyr’s insistence. She had taken a shine to Streak, and insisted that he call her Oma, a Griffish idiom for grandmother.

On the fourth day after they had arrived, they packed up their luggage and headed for the station to catch the train to Ponyville.

“I can hardly wait to introduce you to my friends!” Twilight gushed excitedly to Streak.

“I know, Mama. That’s the seventh time you told me today,” Streak said with a touch of exasperation.

“Eighth,” Free corrected.

Twilight blushed. “Sorry. I just miss them a lot. That’s also why I want to be able to commute faster between Griffonia and here. Anyway, I have to see how Spike is coping with the new librarian too. Oh, and Pinkie is going to throw you a party, so be ready for that.”

“Fourth time you told me that too,” Streak said drolly.

“A-heh! Right. Shutting up now.”

Streak was left to enjoy the view as they traveled, and he had no time to grow bored before they pulled up at Ponyville station. They disembarked and were met by six mares who swarmed over Twilight, exchanging hugs and nuzzles. Then it was Streak’s turn to be fussed over. Free was not totally ignored either, and he got a few welcoming hugs.

It did not take long for Rainbow Dash to get buddy-buddy with Streak. “I hear that you’re supposed to be real fast – wanna race sometime?” Dash asked in a mixture of Equish and Griffish that she had learned from her childhood friend, Gilda.

Streak gave her a confident grin. “If you think you can keep up.”

Dash grinned in return. “I hope you don’t mind eating my dust!”

Applejack said, “Why don’t y’all get it outta your systems and get it over with? See Twi’s castle over yonder, young ’un? That’s where we’re headed. You two can race to get there first, okay?”

“Sure!” Streak replied after they made sure that he properly understood the farm mare.

“I’ll give you a head-start seeing as you can’t fly over obstacles,” Dash offered.

“You’ll be sorry!” Free sing-songed.

“Pardon me, girls – I’m going to teleport ahead to meet them,” Twilight said, and then put her words into action.

Free said, “Okay – ready? Go!”

Streak accelerated at an astounding rate, a gust of wind whipping the manes of the mares left on the platform, their jaws dropping in astonishment.

“Better get going, Dash,” Free prompted.

“Wha? Oh heck!” Rainbow Dash belatedly took off, sparing no effort to catch up with the colt who had already disappeared from view. A moment later, a sonic rainboom thundered through the village.

Rarity cringed and said, “Ooh! That’s going to annoy everypony.”

“How in tarnation can anypony run that fast?” Applejack said. “I thought Twi was exaggerating a mite when she told us about him.”

“It’s his special talent,” Free explained. “His reflexes are a lot faster than anypony else’s also. His whole body is wired for speed, and he keeps getting faster as he grows. Twilight isn’t sure yet, but she thinks he might one day be able to break the sound barrier like Rainbow Dash if he keeps improving at this rate.”

“That’s amazing,” Rarity said, still staring in the direction that Streak had gone, noting the reactions of the ponies he had passed. “So who do you suppose won the race?”

“With all the ponies, buildings, and other obstacles in Streak’s way, he probably couldn’t get up to anything near his top speed, so Dash probably won despite her late start,” Free replied. “I can see a re-match in the works soon, but with less of a handicap to Streak.”

“Well, we’d better see if you’re right and head over to the castle before Pinkie bursts. She’s been preparing for this party for days.”

“Where is Pinkie anyway?” Free asked, noticing that she had disappeared also.

“Probably at the castle by now. No, don’t ask how – that’s just Pinkie.”

The group headed off at a far more leisurely pace than the racers. When they got to the castle, they found Dash and Streak playing a game of tag while Twilight watched.

“Rainbow Dash beat Streak,” she confirmed, “but even she realized that Streak was hampered by the obstacles. They’ve already decided to race again, but I made them put it off until later. Right now she’s trying to test just how fast he is with a game of tag. She hasn’t managed to do so yet.”

Free shouted, “Hey, Streak! You can stop showing off now. Party time!”

Streak raced over to Free and Twilight. “I’m hungry. Let’s eat!”

# # #

Later that evening, as Twilight was tucking Streak into bed, she asked, “So how do like my castle?”

“It’s cool, Mama. And your friends are cool too, even Rainbow Dash.”

Even Rainbow Dash?” Twilight queried.

“Yeah – she won’t admit that I can be faster than her.”

“You realize that she probably is a lot faster than you?”

“Yeah, now, but not always.”

“Ah, I see. Rainbow has always been very competitive, so even if you get as fast as her one day, that might just push her to get faster still.”

“Then I’ll have to get faster again.”

Twilight laughed. “That’s going to be a mighty rivalry. I think I’m going to enjoy seeing what comes in the future. Now let’s see how fast you can go to sleep.”

# # #

After breakfast the next morning, they paid quick visits to Twilight’s friends’ places. At each stop, Twilight and Free encouraged Streak to speak Equish whenever possible, but translated back and forth as needed.

They visited Rarity’s boutique first before she got too busy with the day’s work. While Streak was not too interested in that work, he did like the scarf that she gave him.

“A young colt like you needs something to show off just how dashing you are,” she said as she wrapped it around his neck.

Streak thought that she might be right about that, and thanked her profusely.

Next they dropped by Rainbow Dash’s cloud home, with Free providing the taxi service for Streak. Dash showed off her collection of Wonderbolts memorabilia, and gave her a couple of free passes good for the next show that she and her team-mates were performing at. Of course they then had to have the re-match race. This time Streak had an open road to use, and he made the most of it. Dash still beat him without resorting to a rainboom, but she was pushed hard to achieve that.

“That was awesome, Streak! You gotta come back and race me again someday, ’cause I know you’ll be faster.”

“You bet, Dash!” he replied, hoof-bumping her.

The race had concluded at Fluttershy’s cottage, where the yellow pegasus showed him all the animals that she was caring for.

“Have you got a pet?” she asked. “No? Oh, everypony should have a pet! I’ll help you choose one.”

Twilight was a little dubious about Streak’s choice of a ferret, but Fluttershy assured her that they made good pets for young colts.

Fluttershy’s cottage was of course just a stone’s throw from Sweet Apple Acres, and that was their next destination. They found Applejack working the west orchard, and she paused in her work long enough to give Streak a quick tour of the farm. She gave him a demonstration on how she harvested apples by bucking the trees, but when Streak tried to emulate her, he failed miserably.

“Don’t you worry none, young fella. There’s a technique to bucking apples that you just haven’t learned.”

“Can I try something else, Applejack?” Streak asked.

“Go right ahead.”

Streak put his forehooves on the trunk and started shaking the tree. Faster and faster he shook until the whole tree was vibrating, and then it suddenly was raining apples.

“Well I’ll be jiggered – never seen that done before. Not bad, Streak. I could make an Apple of you someday.”

“That’s how I got almonds from the tree back home. I thought it would work for apples too.”

“Sure did! Well, you harvested them, so you get to take as many of those apples as you like with you.”

They left Sweet Apple Acres with a basket-load of apples and headed back into town. The next destination was Sugarcube Corner where they stopped for morning tea. Pinkie Pie had prepared a special confection just for Streak, and they sat in a booth enjoying it with mugs of hot chocolate.

“How did Pinkie know I’d like this so much?” Streak asked.

“Oh, you probably mentioned something to someone at the party last night, and Pinkie noted it down,” Twilight explained. She added in a conspiratorial whisper, “She has a secret room where she keeps detailed notes on everypony she meets. If it pertains to a party, it’s in there.”

“Where’s this room?” Streak asked between mouthfuls.

Pinkie suddenly popped up between them. “It’s a secret!” she hissed, and sank back out of sight.

Streak stared at the spot where Pinkie had been for a moment before grinning and saying, “I really like her – she’s weird!”

They spent the rest of the day exploring the rest of Ponyville and meeting the townsfolk. Blue Streak’s wide-eyed excitement for everything that he saw renewed Twilight’s love for her home town. Seeing the place through fresh young eyes helped her appreciate again what had become so familiar to her over the years.

Around four o’clock in the afternoon, Twilight announced, “I want to make a quick side trip over to Whitetail Meadows to check up on my goddaughters, and introduce Streak to Cogs’ family. Want to come along, Free?”

Free started scratching his head and looking askance. “Umm, I’m not sure if that’s a good idea, Twi. Considering what we learned about my past, it could get a bit awkward.”

“We don’t have to bring up the subject.”

“I know, but I don’t want to seem to be deceiving Cogs by not telling him either. Truth has a nasty habit of coming out at the worst time.”

Twilight cringed a little at that. “You have a point. Maybe I can bring up the subject in conversation, so you can visit next time without worrying about a negative reaction?”

“Okay, but don’t force the subject. There’s no hurry at this time.”

“I’ll be careful, I promise.” She kissed Free to seal the promise, and then held out her hoof to Streak. “Come on, we’re going to teleport to my friend’s home.”

Alicorn and colt disappeared with a bamf! Free half-regretted opting out, but he still thought it was the best course of action for the moment. He looked about and spotted the town’s tavern.

“Hmmm… a cold beer with the locals sounds mighty good right now,” he murmured to himself, and he set off to slake his thirst.

It was a weary trio who sat down to a dinner prepared by Spike that evening. Twilight asked Streak what he thought of Ponyville.

“It’s great, Mama! So many ponies, and so friendly!”

“Is this a place that you could call home then?”

Streak thought about it for a moment before replying, “Home is where you and Free are together with Dad and Mama Rose.”

Twilight was deeply touched by the colt’s sentiment. “You’re right, Streak. However, this castle will be our second residence, and Path and Roseclaw will be living here with us occasionally also.”

“Then it would be a great home,” Streak declared.

“I think so too,” Twilight said happily, holding out her hoof to Free who took it in his claws. She held out the other to Streak who took the cue from Free and joined hooves. “We’re happiest when we’re all together as a family, so tomorrow we’ll head back to Canterlot to start our journey back to Griffonia. Someday soon, I hope, we’ll all come here and stay a bit longer. Does that sound good to you, Streak?”

The colt grinned happily. “Yeah, Mama – that sounds great!”

# # #

Just as they had been met at the station when they had arrived in Ponyville, so were the threesome farewelled by their friends the next day. Upon arrival in Canterlot, Twilight made arrangements for the Skylark to be ready for departure in the morning. She then checked on the progress of the various projects that she had set in motion. With those out of the way, the remainder of the day was spent with family and friends, giving Zephyr an opportunity to fuss over her grandson once more. Even both Princess Celestia and Princess Luna took the opportunity to spend a little time socializing before they departed.

Eventually though, it was time for Blue Streak to go to bed. Twilight tucked him in and kissed him goodnight before starting her own preparations for sleep. Their departure at first light meant getting up early, and thus she felt it wise to get to bed early too. However, when she exited the bathroom and found Free posing saucily on the bed in pegasus form, she had to smile.

Perhaps not too early,’ she thought before leaping onto the bed to join him.

# # #

Something was wrong – the tree was falling too soon and in the wrong direction.

“Dad! Mom!” he screamed as he watched them frantically try to get out of its way, only to see the massive tree branches slam into both of them. He ran up to where he could see his mother pinned to the ground, blood pouring from a gash in her head. He tugged on her foreleg, trying to free her, but his efforts were totally in vain.

“Streak,” the mare began before breaking into a fit of coughing. She continued weakly, “Go get help. Run, son! Run as fast as you can!”

The terrified foal reluctantly backed off. “Okay, Mom,” he said as tears streamed from his eyes. He turned and galloped away, pushing himself faster than he had ever done before. He headed for the herd’s workshop where he knew he could find help, but no matter how fast he ran, it never seemed to get any closer. He ran until he felt his heart would burst, and then collapsed, wailing in misery at his failure.

“Hush, child, ’tis but a nightmare of things past,” came a sympathetic voice above him.

Streak looked up and saw that the forest and fields had been replaced by an amorphous mist, filled only by the midnight blue form of an alicorn.

“Princess Luna? What’s happening?”

“I would guess that you were reliving the death of your parents. Your nightmare distress touched upon me, and I sought you out. I am truly sorry for this to have happened to you when you were so young, but it is a shadow of the past now, and you have new parents who love you very much. Take strength in that, my little pony.”

“I ran as fast as I could to get help, but they were dead before I got back. I’ve never forgiven myself for that. If only I’d been a bit faster!”

“So you push yourself for ever-greater speed? You are a remarkable colt, but even you cannot cheat death. It’s not your fault that your parents died.”

“That’s what everypony tells me, but what if they’re wrong? What if I had been five minutes faster, or even just two? Would they still be alive?”

“Even I cannot answer that, but you cannot let the unknown tear at you and ruin your life. Mourn your parents, remember them with love, and put their memories to rest. Look forward to your life with your new family, because they deserve your love as much as you deserve theirs.”

“I do love them, Princess. I haven’t been so happy in a long time.”

“That is very pleasing to hear. Now remember that when you wake…”

The mists swirled away, and Streak sat up in bed with a gasp. Twilight was there at the bedside looking at him in concern.

“Streak, I heard you crying! What’s wrong?”

Streak shook his head and wiped away the tears on his cheeks. “It’s okay, Mama. It was just a nightmare. Princess Luna came and helped me though.”

Twilight hugged the colt. “If you want, you can spend the night with us.”

“Yes, please, Mama.”

Twilight led Streak to their bedroom where Free was sitting up in the bed, waiting to find out what was happening. He arched a questioning eyebrow at the alicorn.

“Streak will be spending the rest of the night with us,” Twilight explained.

Free nodded and patted the bed next to him. “Climb up here, champ.”

Streak did so and Twilight got into the bed next to him. She pulled the blankets over them all, turned off the light, and said, “Sleep well, boys.”

“Yes, Mama!” Streak said happily.

“Yes, Mama,” Free echoed with a grin unseen in the dark.

“Oh, hush up!” Twilight replied.

Streak giggled and snuggled up closer. He was soon asleep again, but his dreams were peaceful this time.

# # #

A scheduled overnight shower left Canterlot gleaming in the morning sunlight, nearly dazzling Twilight, Free, and Streak as they watched the city recede from the observation deck. The air was a bit chilly at that time, so Streak was wearing the scarf that Rarity had given him, and both adults had a wing around the colt between them. As they watched, a burst of light came from the highest tower of the castle.

“That was Celestia’s final farewell to us,” Twilight told Streak. “But it’s also a message that you’ll always be welcome in Canterlot. Do you regret having to go back to Griffonia so soon?”

“No, Mama. I know I’ll be back some day. Right now, I just want to go home.”

Free said, “We all miss your Daddy Path and Mama Rose too. Yeah, it’s time to go back.”

They watched for a while longer until their route around Mount Canterhorn took the city out of sight, and then they headed inside where it was warmer.

“Me and Slick are going to the bridge,” Streak announced.

Twilight eyed the ferret perched on top of the colt’s head which seemed to have become its preferred observation post. “Enjoy yourselves, but make sure Slick doesn’t get in the crew’s way.”

“Okay, Mama!” Streak dashed away at his usual headlong pace.

“You think he might want to be an airship pilot when he grows up?” Free asked.

“I wouldn’t be surprised at all.”

# # #

Slick was promptly banished from the bridge. Who’d have guessed that Captain Fairweather would be allergic to ferrets?

# # ## # ## # # # # #

Author's Note:

Let me head off any controversy right away and say that I am NOT shipping Celestia. It's just a bit of fun innuendo between them. Celestia is such a troll sometimes!

"Oma" is actually a term used by my Dutch relatives, and is a contraction of the word for grandmother. I just thought it would be cool that griffons used it too. (Opa too!)

 
Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...