Mind Games

Escape the truth

Within the Canterlot Dungeons.

As the ponies in their cells remained still, a whooshing and jingling noise could be heard approaching from down one of the corridors.

The changeling stirred in his cell, looking up to see what was causing the noise.

“Who’s there!?” The changeling called out.

As the noises got closer, the dim silhouette of a Pegasus came into view, until the light finally reviled that it was Rainbow Dash once more.

“Oh, it’s just you.” The changeling spoke to the Pegasi, giving her a glare.

Rainbow Dash landed on the ground between the two cells, spitting the keys in her mouth on the ground before answering.

“Yeah, nice to see you too. Now be quiet, I have to figure out which key it is.” Rainbow Dash replied.

Upon seeing the keys, a shocked look came over the changeling’s face.

“You actually managed to get the keys!? How did you trick one of my brethren to help you?” The changeling asked Rainbow Dash.

Rainbow Dash spit out another key, after it too failed to open the lock.

“Actually, I didn’t need your dumb changeling’s help. The keys were sitting on a hook outside the dungeon door.” Rainbow Dash replied.

“Then why did it take you so long to get back here?” The changeling asked.

“Normally I can just fly above mazes, but it’s kinda hard when there’s a ceiling in the way.” Rainbow Dash responded.

Dumbfounded, the changeling face hoofed himself.

“There! Got it!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed, dropping the key that had managed to open the lock to Soarin’s cell.

“Hey! How about letting me see those keys?” The changeling asked.

“No way! As if I’d help a changeling!” Rainbow Dash replied, before grabbing the keys to work on the lock to Fluttershy’s cell.

While Rainbow Dash tried to find the next key, Soarin began to stir as well.

“Rainbow Dash…” Soarin spoke.

“I’ll help you in a minute Soarin. I’m sorry for leaving you before, but I’ve got to save Fluttershy first.” Rainbow Dash responded, before trying another key.

“How could you…abandon me!?” Soarin exclaimed, before biting Rainbow Dash’s tail, and yanking her away from the cell door.

“Hey!?” Rainbow Dash exclaimed, dropping the keys before being pulled away.

Soarin then leaned over to grab the keys in his mouth, before tossing them all the way out the cell, into the hallway.

“What’s your deal!?” Rainbow Dash yelled at Soarin, as she jumped to her hooves.

“You abandoned me…for ponies you’ve never met before!” Soarin responded.

“Look, I know I shouldn’t have left you like that, but I don’t have time to explain everything right now! I need to get Fluttershy out of here before…” Rainbow Dash began to tell Soarin, before he cut her off.

“Enough about her! You just want to save her so that you can make her a Wonderbolt! It should be me! I should be a Wonderbolt!” Soarin exclaimed.

“What’re you talking about!? You’re already are a Wonderbolt!” Rainbow Dash replied.

“Stop lying! Scootaloo’s a Wonderbolt! Scootaloo! She can barely even fly, and she’s a Wonderbolt! How does that even make any sense?! I can fly circles around her!” Soarin responded.

“Scootaloo’s not a Wonderbolt.” Rainbow Dash replied, a confused look on her face.

“I said stop lying! I thought after everything we’ve been through, that you’d want to help me be a Wonderbolt, just like you, but you guys decided on that chicken instead! I thought we were friends!? I just enjoyed eating pies! That’s not an excuse to not make me a Wonderbolt!” Soarin replied.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about Soarin!” Rainbow Dash responded.

“Why not!? Is it because of the brainwashing!?” Soarin asked.

“Brainwashing? What?” Rainbow Dash replied.

“Yes, that was the excuse you used when you said you didn’t remember him up in the Royal Palace.” The changeling answered from his cell.

“What!? What did you tell him!?” Rainbow Dash asked the changeling.

“Only the truth of course. After you decided to leave him to the Princesses, you decided that saying you were brainwashed by that zebra would be the best excuse.” The changeling replied.

“What!?” Rainbow Dash replied, at a loss for words.

“I thought we were friends! Now I see that you were just thinking of yourself!” Soarin yelled at Rainbow Dash.

“Can you really blame her though? She ‘was’ brainwashed after all.” The changeling told Soarin.

“I don’t care! You should’ve remembered me! You should’ve come back!” Soarin exclaimed.

The changeling began to chuckle to himself, as he could see that his provoking was working.

“Listen Soarin! You have to snap out of this! I’m not the enemy here, this is all Chrysalis’ fault!” Rainbow Dash tried to reason with Soarin.

“NO! You’re not gonna blame somepony else for what you did! Especially not the Queen! You’re taking my place in this cell!” Soarin responded, as he opened his wings and prepared to charge at Rainbow Dash.

“Alright, you asked for it!” Rainbow Dash responded, preparing to charge as well.

The changeling began to laugh, as the two Pegasi were about to charge at each other.

The two Pegasi lunged for each other, before both being stopped by a magical pull, accompanied by a loud yell.

“QUIIIIIEEEEET!!!” Twilight yelled, as she used her magic to stop Rainbow Dash and Soarin from attacking each other.

“You’re one to talk.” Spike spoke, rubbing his ears.

“Huh? Twilight? When did you two get here?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“You flew off again without waiting for us; we were worried about you.” Twilight replied.

“Will somepony put me down!?” Soarin exclaimed.

“Not yet.” Twilight replied, before looking back to Rainbow Dash. “Rainbow Dash, you need to stop rushing into things all by yourself. What if you had been captured too? You would’ve been in the same condition as Fluttershy and Soarin.”

“But…” Rainbow Dash spoke.

“Listen, we know that you want to protect our friends as much as we do, but you can’t keep putting yourself in danger like this. What would we do if something happened to you as well?” Twilight told Rainbow Dash.

“I…I guess you’re right.” Rainbow Dash admitted.

“Alright, now that the reunion is out of the way, let’s get Fluttershy and get out of here before someone suspects that we’re here.” Spike spoke up.

“You’re right Spike.” Twilight agreed, lowering Rainbow Dash back to the ground.

“Hey! What about me!?” Soarin asked.

“Not until you cool down, mister.” Twilight replied.

“Uh, oh. Twilight, I can’t find the keys!” Rainbow Dash spoke.

“Oh no!” Twilight replied.

“What are we supposed to do now?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“I could try to open the lock with my magic, but I’ll need to concentrate.” Twilight replied, before looking over at Soarin once more. “Can I trust you to be civil while I help my friends?”

Soarin looked away before answering.

“Just don’t put me down near HER.” Soarin responded.

Twilight nodded in agreement, setting Soarin down on the other side of the cell. She then made her way to the lock on Fluttershy’s cell, and proceeded to concentrate her magic on opening it.

“Should…about…got it!” Twilight spoke aloud.

With the door opened, everypony but Soarin made their way into Fluttershy’s cell. Fluttershy was facing away from the group, still covered in several blankets. Her breath visible each time she breathed.

“She doesn’t look too good.” Spike spoke aloud.

“I’m not sure what happened, but she must have been exposed to someplace very cold. I’ll try to warm her up gradually with a spell.” Twilight replied, before her horn began to glow and covered Fluttershy in a raspberry colored aura.

“Fluttershy? Hey, Fluttershy!” Rainbow Dash tried speaking to her friend.

Fluttershy shivered, but didn’t respond otherwise.

“Come on Fluttershy, wake up!” Rainbow Dash spoke again.

Fluttershy stopped shivering as much, but still didn’t respond.

“Is she going to be alright?” Spike asked.

“I don’t want to warm her up to fast, since I’m not sure exactly how cold she is.” Twilight replied.

“Come on Fluttershy.” Rainbow Dash spoke.

Fluttershy shivered again, but finally managed to say something.

“….is….is that you?” Fluttershy spoke quietly.

“She’s alright!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

“That’s great! Just a little more, and then we can get out of here.” Twilight replied, continuing to focus her magic.

As the trio waited for Fluttershy to warm up more, they suddenly heard a door shut in the distance of the corridors.

“Oh no! Sounds like somepony’s coming!” Spike spoke aloud.

“How much longer, Twilight?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“Not much longer, her core temperature should be stable soon.” Twilight responded.

“…wait…I need…to ask you…something…” Fluttershy muttered.

“Huh? What is it, Fluttershy?” Rainbow Dash asked, kneeling down to hear her better.

“How is it…that you know me?...” Fluttershy asked.

“What do you mean?” Rainbow Dash asked.

“When you last spoke to me…you said; ‘I remember when the loudest you ever got, was when you gave one of your flutter ‘yays!’ to cheer me on.’” Fluttershy began to explain.

Rainbow Dash tried to think back to if that really was the last thing she had said.

“When I was at Zecora’s…and she said that there was trouble in Canterlot…all I could think about were you girls…Why?...” Fluttershy spoke again.

“Well, ya see…” Rainbow Dash began to respond, before Fluttershy interrupted again.

“Why is it that even though we’ve never met…I feel such a strong connection to all of you?...” Fluttershy asked.

“It’s because we’re all friends, Fluttershy.” Twilight spoke.

“Huh?” Fluttershy responded.

“It’s a long story, I guess.” Rainbow Dash added on.

“You girls…” Fluttershy replied, looking around the cell.

“I’ll explain everything later once you’re safe, but right now we need to get out of here.” Twilight told Fluttershy, finishing her spell at the same time.

The group began to hear hoof steps approaching from down the corridor.

“Come on! Let’s get moving!” Rainbow Dash exclaimed.

“Wait…” Fluttershy spoke up, while trying to stand.

“What is it, Fluttershy?” Twilight asked.

“I don’t feel…like I can move yet.” Fluttershy answered, barely standing up.

“Guess we don’t have a choice. Everyone, gather around Fluttershy!” Twilight told her friends.

Everypony moved closer to Fluttershy, as Twilight prepared her teleportation spell. After a few seconds of concentration, the group disappeared in a flash of magic.

Arriving in time to view the fading sparks of magic, Princess Celestia stood in the open doorway of Soarin’s cell. She looked off to the cell across from his, and found its door open as well. Looking back to the far cell where Fluttershy once lay, Princess Celestia stood in the quiet of the room, before turning to make her way back down the hall from whence she came.

Inside Town Hall.

Mayor Mare paced back and forth once more in the foyer, until the main door opening caught her attention.

“Hmm? Ah, Rarity! You’re back. How did the meeting go?” Mayor Mare asked.

Rarity walked inside the room, shutting the door behind her with her magic.

“I’m afraid that things are much worse than we expected, Mayor.” Rarity replied. “Are Sweetie Belle and Derpy back yet?”

“Not yet, but they shouldn’t be too much longer.” Mayor Mare responded.

As if on cue, the door burst open behind Rarity, as Sweetie Belle ran inside, followed by Derpy.

“Rarity! You’re back!” Sweetie Belle exclaimed, jumping to hug her sister.

“We’re back from the forest, Mayor.” Derpy told the Mayor.

“Good job girls. What did you two find?” Mayor Mare asked.

“Well, uh…” Sweetie Belle spoke, letting go of Rarity. “Is Apple Bloom still here?” Sweetie Belle asked softly.

“Yes, she is.” Mayor Mare answered.

“Perhaps it would be best if she heard what they found as well.” Rarity suggested.

Rarity walked over to the room where Apple Bloom had slept for the night, and knocked on the door.

“Apple Bloom, dear.” Rarity called.

“…yes?” Apple Bloom responded quietly inside.

“May we come in, dear? There is something you need to hear.” Rarity told the filly.

“…okay.” Apple Bloom replied, quietly.

The four ponies outside the room entered, and sat around the sulking filly. Rarity laid down next to Apple Bloom, to try and comfort her while Sweetie Belle and Derpy told them what they saw.

“I’m sure you’re still rather shaken up from last night, but I think that you should hear what these two have found.” Rarity told Apple Bloom.

“Okay…” Apple Bloom replied, still looking at the floor.

“Go on then Sweetie Belle, Derpy. Tell us what you found.” Rarity told the two.

“Uh, alright Rarity. Well, when we got to Zecora’s hut in the Everfree Forest, we didn’t really find much honestly.” Sweetie Belle began to speak.

“There was a big oval on the ground, or maybe it was a circle. I’m not sure, but the hut wasn’t there anymore.” Derpy added on.

Tears began to form in Apple Bloom’s eyes.

Rarity could see that what the two had found so far wasn’t very pleasing to the filly, but figured that there must have been something.

“Go on.” Rarity told the two.

“That’s really all there is, sis.” Sweetie Belle replied.

“Yeah, I mean, there was some disturbed grass in the center, but we couldn’t find Zecora anywhere.” Derpy added.

Apple Bloom started to cry, tears falling heavily from her eyes.

“Oh, Apple Bloom.” Mayor Mare spoke.

Disappointed that there was truly nothing else, Rarity spoke up to the group.

“I see….That wasn’t the news that I had hoped to hear…and as it turns out, has only made things much more difficult for what we need to do.” Rarity spoke.

“What do you mean, Rarity?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Apple Bloom. I am truly sorry that this wasn’t what you wanted to hear, and I can only imagine the pain that you must be feeling right now…but…” Rarity spoke to the crying filly.

“But what?” Mayor Mare asked.

Rarity took a deep breath, before speaking again.

“…but I must ask that you come with me to Canterlot.” Rarity told the filly.

“Are you out of your mind, Rarity!? She’s just received the worst possible news in her life, and you want her to go with you back to Canterlot!?” Mayor Mare exclaimed to Rarity.

“The Princess has asked for her presence. It is of the upmost importance.” Rarity replied.

Apple Bloom continued to cry, but slowing began to catch her breath, before speaking in-between sobs.

“No…it’s alright…” Apple Bloom replied.

“But Apple Bloom!?” Mayor Mare exclaimed.

“No…Ah understand.” Apple Bloom replied, now trying to sniffle her tears. “Zecora wouldn’t want me to go on crying like this. She’d tell me a silly rhyme, and say to not dwell on it.”

“You’re a brave filly for admitting something like that, Apple Bloom.” Rarity spoke.

“Ah’ll go to Canterlot with you, Miss Rarity. Ah’m sure it must be really important, if they need a filly like me there.” Apple Bloom told Rarity.

“Very well. If it’s alright with you, then we shall leave immediately, while there’s still daylight.” Rarity replied.

“Alright.” Apple Bloom responded.

“Now, let’s hurry along. I told the Princess that I’d bring you back safely at all costs, and I intend to keep my word.” Rarity told the filly.

“The Princess? What about Chrysalis? Wasn’t she the one who really called the meeting?” Mayor Mare asked.

“I’m afraid not. Last night, Chrysalis was ponynapped, and has been missing since.” Rarity replied.

“What!?” Everypony in the room exclaimed.

“Amongst the ponies that they suspect of abducting her, include the group that we met yesterday, minus Braeburn. They also suspect Soarin from Cloudsdale, and a Unicorn named Trixie.” Rarity told everypony.

“Chrysalis ponynapped? How is that even possible? She has the Princesses and Discord, as well as her army of changelings.” Mayor Mare asked.

“It’s troubling to me as well, but it’s true.” Rarity replied.

“So what are we supposed to do, Rarity?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“While I escort Apple Bloom to Canterlot, the rest of you should start searching Ponyville for any of the suspects. We may have to branch out from there, if we’re unable to find anypony.” Rarity replied.

“And what if we still can’t find them?” Mayor Mare asked.

“Then we’ll have to search beyond our shores, to the other kingdoms.” Rarity answered.

“The other kingdoms? That could take years!” Mayor Mare replied.

“Believe me, it wasn’t my idea, but even I can see how much trouble that could be.” Rarity replied.

“But we’ve never been further than Las Pegasus, to Appleloosa, and Manehattan. Even then, it was never for more than a week or so. Where would we even begin to look?” Mayor Mare asked.

“I’m afraid I don’t know, but we’ll have to cross that bridge once we come to it. For now, we all need to start searching until Apple Bloom and I return.” Rarity told the group.

“Please don’t be gone as long this time.” Sweetie Belle told her sister.

“I won’t Sweetie.” Rarity replied. “Come along now Apple Bloom, we have a long train ride ahead of us.” Rarity told Apple Bloom, as she opened the door with her magic, and stepped outside.

“Alright.” Apple Bloom replied, following Rarity.

As the door closed behind the two, Mayor Mare began to think to herself on what Rarity had told them.

“Chrysalis captured? Normally that would be a good thing, but there are still ponies that are under her spell. I guess we have no choice but to wait until everypony is returned to normal. I just wish I knew how to do it…” Mayor Mare thought to herself.

“Is something wrong, Mayor?” Sweetie Belle asked.

“Hmm? Oh, it’s nothing. I was just thinking about something that happened a long time ago. Come along then, we should get to searching.” Mayor Mare replied, as she walked over to open the door for Sweetie Belle and Derpy.

“Yes ma’am!” Sweetie Belle and Derpy replied, as they headed outside.

“Hmm. I wonder if ‘she’ would know…” Mayor Mare thought to herself once more.

Mayor Mare closed the door behind her, as she followed the two in their search.

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