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Description:

“WOOHOO!!” Pandora’s gleeful cry echoed across The Chaos Realm as she soared past floating islands and flocks of rainbow trout. It was nearly impossible for a common equine to navigate this realm, or even survive many of its hazards, but for a draconequus like Pandora, it was a dimensional playground. She ducked past a giant anglerfish, galloped across an upside-down meadow and gleefully dove into a nearby puddle, exiting an instant later through a passing mirror.
 
“Oh wow, I missed this!” Pandora sighed as she settled down on a giant chocolate donut. “Such beautiful… randomness! A surprise around every corner! Not like Ponyville… honestly, I don’t know how Dad can handle all that daily routine and, ick, schedules. He probably just got used to it, living with Mom.” She smiled and sighed as she scanned the violet-blue sky. “Honestly, if it weren’t for them, and Cupcake, and our friends, I’d probably just live here full-time. But hey, maybe I could convince Cuppy to take a trip here some…” Pandora’s musings slipped into silence as she glanced down at a passing island, where a familiar figure stared idly into an octopus pool.
 
“Huh, that’s weird.” Pandora mused. “Dad didn’t tell me he was visiting The Chaos Realm, too.” She slipped off the edge of the donut and floated down behind the figure. “Dad, what are you doing here?” Pandora called. “I thought you and Mom were visiting Aunt Fluttershy for-!” The figure turned its head, and Pandora’s words died in her throat; it wasn’t her father, but a young draconequus whom Pandora had never seen before. His eyes, one blue and one orange widened in shock, and his jaw fell open. For a few moments, they stared at each other in shocked silence, and then the figure turned and sat up to face Pandora. They looked each other up and down in unison, and then the stranger said, in a quiet, nervous voice,
 
“I… you… you’re a draconequus? Like me?” Pandora nodded.
 
“Yeah, I am. But I thought I was the only one!” Pandora replied.
 
“So did I.” The stranger admitted. “I thought I was all alone.” His ears drooped, and he glanced away for a moment before looking back to Pandora. “But… but how have we never seen each other before? I’ve been here all my life, and I’ve never seen even a trace of another draconequus.”
 
“Oh! Well, I’m not technically from around here.” Pandora replied. “I mean, my dad used to live here, but I was raised in a place called ‘Equestria’. I haven’t been here since I was just a little girl, so I guess it makes sense that we’ve never met before.” She looked around, and then her ears perked up. “Oh, I’m sorry, where are my manners?” She held out her paw to the stranger, and smiled warmly. “Hi, I’m Pandora.” The stranger reached out his own paw, that of a grizzly bear, and shook Pandora’s.
 
“I’m Bedlam.” The stranger said. “It’s… nice to meet you.” Pandora frowned slightly as she glanced at Bedlam’s drooping ears and general state of unease.
 
“Are you okay?” She asked. “You seem a little… nervous.”
 
“Huh? Oh no, it’s nothing.” Bedlam said, defensively. “Why do you ask?”
 
“Well, with all due respect, you seem… kind of shy. It’s not the kind of trait one would associate with a spirit of chaos.” Bedlam sighed through his nostrils.
 
“No… no it’s not.” He admitted, and leaned down to stroke the octopus’ exposed tentacles. “It’s just… I feel like I don’t belong.”
 
“Don’t belong?” Pandora repeated, and sat down near Bedlam. “What do you mean?”
 
“I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere. I’m a freak, even among my own species.” Pandora remained silent, so Bedlam elaborated. “We’re creatures born of chaos, right? We have these incredible powers that let us warp reality on whim, just so we can make everyone else’s life a living hell. But the thing is… I don’t want any of that. I don’t want to cause trouble and hurt others. I just want to be accepted, maybe make a friend. I just want a normal life. Is that too much to ask?”
 
“Well… no, I don’t think so.” Pandora replied. “But you don’t have to cause trouble if you don’t want to-!”
 
“What choice do I have?” Bedlam cried, and Pandora drew back in surprise. “I can’t be normal! Look at me!” He stared down at his mismatched paws and feathery wings. “I’m a freak! I can’t just blend into society looking like this!” Pandora opened her mouth, but Bedlam continued, “I can’t even act normal! I’ve tried to restrain my magic countless times, but it doesn’t work!” He held his paws to his chest, and his voice became hollow. “I get this horrible, pounding strain in my chest, like there’s something inside me, clawing to get out, and I can’t keep it quiet!” In his distress, blue and orange sparks emitted from his paws. “And eventually, it just explodes out of me, warping everything and everyone around me, and I can’t control it!” Bedlam was crying now, and his thick pearly tears floated off his cheeks and into the void. “I don’t belong anywhere!” He sobbed. “I ruin everything I touch! Everyone I meet is afraid of me!” He collapsed on the grass. “That’s why I stay here, in The Chaos Realm; I figure I can’t make anything weirder than it already is.” He covered his face, and mumbled, “I just want to be normal. Why can’t I be normal?” Pandora rubbed her paws nervously, unsure of what to say or do, and then slowly, she reached out and patted Bedlam on the back.
 
“I’m sorry you’re going through this. I really am.” Pandora said. “Believe it or not, I’ve been there too. I grew up in a world of pastel ponies, where me and my dad were the only ones of our kind. I got into all kinds of trouble at school for using my magic, and I even tried to disguise myself as a pony, so I could become a great ruler like my mom, but…” Pandora cringed as she recalled the catastrophe that she’d caused in the throne room during her coronation day. “But it didn’t work out. I couldn’t hide who I really was. So I decided to run away and live on my own, where I wouldn’t hurt anypony.” She looked down at Bedlam, who had stopped crying, and now lay still and silent on the grass.
 
“But I didn’t run away. My best friend, a kind, loyal, brave and all-around awesome pony told me that she’d follow me wherever I went, and even with my failings, I’m still a kind, creative, adventurous and wonderful creature. She believed in me when nopony else would.” Finally, Bedlam looked up at Pandora, and wiped his snout with the back of his paw. “Bottom line, you’re not alone.” Pandora concluded, and gave Bedlam a warm smile, and slowly, weakly, he returned it.
 
(STORY CONTINUED IN SOURCE)
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