Twisted Reflections

by Solana

Chapter 1: Caught Red-Handed?

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Caught Red-Handed?

It wasn't the most ideal time to be doing this; in fact, Luna much preferred the gentle thermals of the night, compared to the more oppressive thermals she would encounter during the day. It was unfortunate that she had to get her kicks this way, at least for the time being, but ‘Tia had busted her riding the pastel horse again, and knew that nighttime was when she would use.  Daytime was better than no time Luna decided.

Flapping about in broad daylight wasn't exactly a very good idea for a number of reasons. Her ‘medicine’ wasn't illegal yet, but it certainly wasn't socially acceptable, and the last thing she needed at this point was to be branded a pariah. Although honestly, there was nothing in this world that could keep her from chasing this high. Luna allowed her mind to wander as she felt the brisk wind against her, well, everything!

Her life had been one confusing and depressing twist after another. She remembered how difficult it had been to learn the basics. Her parents got letter after letter complaining about Luna falling behind the class when it came to learning how to read, right up until she decided books held the secret to ‘fixing’ her; after that, she became something of an overnight bookworm. Her mind overflowed with images of trying to write, but being incompetent with the hand motions (she still pretty much was). Her teacher even caught her trying to practice with her mouth on occasion!

One of the more traumatic incidents was undoubtedly the death of her parents, leaving her with nopony but her sister. Somehow they always managed to stick together from home to home, but those never seemed to last, especially not with the disturbing extremes she’d go to in order to get back to their ‘real’ home, the nonsense she’d humor in order to fix herself.

She shook her head to clear it of those dark thoughts. She didn't need magic or religion. She had found exactly what she needed to fix herself. Who would have thought the drug that had been her salvation had been floating around in her body all along! PMT, as it was jokingly called by some, wasn't in plants and animals the way its namesake was, but it did exist in particularly high amounts within certain individuals. It needed to be packed with an enzyme inhibitor to have any effect, and was by default. Such was probably how it got its affectionate nickname. Heck, Luna was such a problem pony off the drug that she was confident she could take just the enzyme inhibitor and still experience the joys of flight, and even ‘real’ magic. The only problem was Tia. She had always been the responsible one, but she had to be if she was going to keep her precious Lucy safe. It tore Luna apart going behind her sister’s back like this. It tore her up even more because she ‘knew’ Tia was hurting the same way she did while growing up. She simply never allowed anypony to see that.

Just as she thought, this trip was going south fast. Stupid sun, it always brought out the worst in these occasions. She frowned softly when a few feathers fell out of her wings, rotting away almost immediately in mid-air. She was losing altitude and started to make way towards her open window, which she managed to dive in expertly. She certainly had practiced enough by now. More feathers fell out as she hit the ground. Thank the moon they didn't leave any discernible evidence. Given enough time, there would not be a trace of them left. She tried not to let that thought get to her too much. It certainly benefited her, right?

She had time to smile and think about all the scientists scrambling to uncover how a drug with these effects could be physically possible, even as her fur fell out in clumps and her wings rotted to nothing.

‘That’s good, Luna. Keep your mind off of it. Turning back the first time is always the worst, but there are exercises you can do to cope through the trauma. Think of happy memories! Ugh... there’s nothing here. Wait! What about that time back in Canterlot when ‘Tia got caught by a school foal eating all that cake in a most uncivilized manner!?’

Luna laughed out loud for a brief moment before covering her mouth with a pair of hooves that, even now, were starting to crack in places.

PMT had a laundry list of ‘nasty’ side-effects, all of which Luna had been fortunate enough to avoid, at least so far. The last thing she wanted was ‘fake’ memories. Of all the side effects, schizophrenia was by far the least desirable, at least as far as she was concerned. She was weird enough as it is!

She curled up under a blanket and hunkered down for the rest of the reversal. It went more smoothly if she couldn't see what was happening to her. Turning into a pony was graceful and majestic. Luna would even describe it as magical. Changing back was never that pleasant. It was like being dragged back to hell, at least that’s how she’d articulate the feeling, plenty of fellow ponies felt she was exaggerating for the sake of making herself depressed. What do idiots on the internet know about the intensity of her feelings, anyway?

It took about ten minutes tops, and she gave it another five until she was confident the phantom limb issue had abated enough for her to flex her fingers and walk on two legs without tripping over herself. 

That was another side effect of the drug. Sometimes users found that not all of their body was so eager to revert back to ‘normal’. Sometimes things just stayed behind, like hooves, wings, horns, ears, etc. Often, these would still vanish in a few days, maybe a week, typically overnight while the person slept, but there were a few who had claimed that their features stuck around for months and showed no signs of going away. Lucy hated herself for actually ‘wanting’ that side effect, it’d be like keeping a little part of herself around, a piece of Luna, the real her.

“Ears? check. Eyes? check. Horn is definitely gone, wings are gone, no fur patches or anything...” She scanned her arms, “Looks like I’m fine!” She stated with glee.

A barely noticeable swishing movement responded to the statement from behind her.

A tail of horse-like pale blue hair was flicking sporadically, as if in rhythm with her anxious state of mind. She reached out to touch it, marveling at the realization she had never touched a pony’s tail before, not with her own two hands at least.

“Okay, this could definitely be worse. A tail is easier to hide than my ears or something...” She absently ran her fingers through it while contemplating what to do next. “Think, you've read enough stories to handle this...”

Her mind raced through all of the old fairy tales. She could already hear her sister’s voice, chastising her for her impractical ideas, but she silenced it fairly easily like she always did. She stepped lightly towards the closet and pulled out a long dark blue skirt from the mess inside.

“Perfect, now everything will work out fine,” she blushed with concern at her next thought, “Just so long as I don’t get drunk around any samurai...”

It didn't take much longer for Lucy to get ready. She never cultivated an image the way her sister did, and ever since she started ‘self-medicating’ with a poorly tested street drug, it was hard for her to care a lick about her human appearance anyway. Her timing was impeccable at least, because it wasn't very long after making herself somewhat presentable that the door to her room flew open. Lucy nearly jumped into the air, but settled for a start when she considered the importance of hiding what was under her skirt.

“Tia... You could have knocked,” Lucy’s pout was genuine.

“I wish I could trust you enough to respect your privacy, Lucy, I really do...”

Lucy fought back the urge to correct her sister regarding choice of name, but considered it a losing battle. Sophia strode into the room dressed nicely, as usual. She had to be if she was going to be presentable for her waitressing job. It wasn't a glamorous position, but it was a very fine establishment, and the patrons tipped decently. Her blonde hair was kept relatively short, reaching just down to her shoulders. She had cut it, then, Lucy realized. Her job must have called for it. She’d been growing it out ever since they were kids. She was always a nut about her mane, ‘hair’ Luna corrected herself.

“You have class today, Lucy, you won’t be missing another one. Putting you through college is killing me, and you ‘will’ pass your classes...” Sophia said in a threatening tone dripping with barely contained frustration.

“Yes, of course, Tia. I’m all ready and everything. I just need to grab my bag.” She moved to pick it up before realizing exactly the kind of situation that would put her in.

“Uh... I’ll meet you in the car?” She smiled weakly.

Sophia crossed her arms. “In the last ten years, I've never once seen you wear a skirt, not unless I made you.” Her tone didn't even bother concealing her suspicion. “Don’t act like I haven’t been studying that drug of yours, pick up the bag,”

Lucy paused to consider whether her sister was that smart, or if she really was that bad at lying, at least to her. She noted for the first time that her skirt would shift slightly every so often, although there was no breeze in the room.

‘Okay, so I’m just a bad liar...’

“Tia, please listen to me...”

“Stop,” Sophia raised a hand to her forehead. She squinted her eyes in frustration before looking back up. “Do not call me that again. I’m not a part of your delusions, Lucy.” She lowered her hand and glared at her sister, moving toward her with anger emphasizing each step. “What are you hiding?”

Reluctantly, Lucy lowered her skirt just enough for her azure tail to tumble out. It looked beautiful to her, but Sophia’s face registered only disgust.

“You used again, didn't you?! I told you not to!” Lucy shrunk from her big sister’s words. “Do you want to end up like some kind of lunatic?! Why are you so hell-bent on turning yourself into some kind of animal?!”

Lucy simply nodded her head and took several steps back. Her body was pressed firmly against the wall, and even if she ‘were’ a good liar, her tail was advertising her fear very effectively. Sophia didn't even pay attention, she stormed through the room, flipping out drawers, overturning Lucy’s mattress, the whole nine yards. She was panting from the effort and from her own frustration before spotting something: an old music box their parents had left Lucy after they died.

Sophia reached out and tried to open the small container. Lucy flinched when her sister cracked it open over the side of the night stand, but couldn't help feeling like she should have expected that when she started locking it. Small capsules spilled out onto the floor and Sophia cried out in triumph, and placed the somewhat intact container back on top of her sister’s dresser.

“Stay right there, don’t move a muscle,” Sophia threatened before heading out the doorway.

Lucy almost didn't, until she noticed one of the little capsules had spilled out and rolled far enough across the floor to brush against her feet. She bent over and picked it up, squeezing it in her palm like a lifeline. She was just fast enough to go unnoticed by her sister, who returned with a large empty medicine bottle and began picking them up, one at a time, and placing them into the orange see-through container.

“You and I need to have a talk...” She practically growled. “I expect to see you in the kitchen in thirty minutes, I need time to cool off before I kill you or something.” Lucy had time to see the tears in the corner of her sister’s eyes before Sophia stormed off.

Lucy couldn't remember the last time she felt this guilty.

Next Chapter: A Case of Mistaken Identity Estimated time remaining: 1 Hour, 24 Minutes

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