Pinkie falls in love, Rainbow reveals her darkest secret, and Boone makes the greatest discovery mankind has made since Destiny itself.
The Townhoof was a humble little establishment on the edge of Ponyville. From the outside, one could not see much behind the smoked glass.
Within, the lighting was dim. It was just bright enough for one to identify their surroundings. The brightest area was the bar, immediately to the left of the front entrance. Behind it stood a tall, dark-green pegasus, who was pouring a small amount of liquid from a large bottle into a small glass of ice. He then took another bottle and filled the glass with its contents.
To the right, was a seating area, with chairs surrounding a dozen or so tables. Most chairs were arranged to face the back of the room, where a raised platform was loaded with large speakers and other equipment. In the middle of this stage, sat a single mint-green unicorn, guitar hanging from her neck, microphone in front of her, levitating within a golden glow.
Standing near the front entrance was security. A single dark blue unicorn. Tall, and slender. Not what some would call imposing, but it was likely he had some spell he could use to subdue rowdy patrons, which might be what his cutie mark of a red and green shield indicated. At least, that’s what Rarity was thinking as she entered the establishment, following Applejack, with Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie bringing up the rear. The quartet admired the elegant, yet simple, venue, as Applejack made her way to the bar.
“Evening Applejack,” said the bartender.
“Hey, Vermouth,” Applejack replied. “You know what I want.”
“That I do, how ’bout your friends?” He responded, looking at the three other mares who entered with her.
“I’ll have a Martini,” Rarity said.
Fluttershy was the next to order. “Scotch rocks, please,” she said in her typical, sweet voice.
“Yes, ma’am,” Vermouth replied.
Rarity and Applejack’s eyes went wide, and their heads turned slowly to the left, to look at Fluttershy, who was watching Vermouth prepare the drinks.
It took Fluttershy a moment before she realized her two best friends were staring at her. She began to cower and ask, “W-why are you looking at me like that?”
Applejack opened her mouth to respond, but instead asked, “Where’s Pinkie?”
The trio looked behind them, to the middle of the venue, where their friend was standing, dumbfounded, almost hypnotized, staring at the stage.
It was at that moment that Applejack noticed the unicorn on stage was singing, a song about… actually, she wasn’t sure what. But nonetheless, it seemed to get Pinkie’s attention.
“…always tryin’ to be myself, but I don’t remember who I am,”
Pinkie’s attention was glued to her. It was as if she saw nothing else, and was completely unaware of the world around her.
Applejack heard Fluttershy speaking, something about Pinkie’s drink, Cherry… something. She had no idea. Applejack was too focused on Pinkie herself, to worry about what she might end up drinking.
The unicorn continued to sing.
“I see your face, every time I close my eyes, close my eyes.”
What Pinkie saw on stage amazed her. It’s not like she never listened to music before, but nothing like this. It was almost hypnotic. A bit relaxing, and the tone of the singer was almost seductive. She was mesmerized.
“…I remember beings on the stage, trying to tell me not to be afraid…”
The words she heard did not matter. It was everything about the singer that she noticed. The way her forelegs swung outward while she was singing, as if to illustrate something. The golden sparks flying from her guitar as her magic made the music for her. The way her mane flew around as her head pitched back and forth. This mare was not just singing a song, but baring a genuine emotion from the depths of her soul.
The truth was, Pinkie had never actually seen live music. Okay, that wasn’t entirely true. There was that rock band that came to Ponyville a few years back: Collective Foal. They did a show at the town hall. She went to see them and thoroughly enjoyed it. But looking back she noticed something. The band didn’t really care. They were having a good time, obviously, dancing around the stage, but they were indifferent to their own music. Like they were just going through the motions. Not really having any sort of real, authentic, emotional response. It was likely because many of their songs were written by others, and formulated to elicit mass appeal by the public. Those that they did write, were likely played so many times, that they eventually lost all meaning to the band.
It was just words, and words have no meaning except to those who speak them, and often to those who hear them. These words had meaning to everypony in attendance, but no pony more than the one singing them.
“…close my eyes, close my eyes. You’re always in my miiiiiiiiiiiind… miiiiiiiiiiiind”
All this was going through Pinkie’s mind, as she heard the music, and it continued as the song ended. She couldn’t help but clap her hooves on the floor in approval, and not just mild approval either…
“WOOOOOOOOOO!” She screamed. A big grin on her face accompanied the applause. She noticed the young mare was almost surprised at her’s response. Pinkie doubted she never heard approval like that, but it was probably just unexpected.
There wasn’t a large crowd. Outside of Pinkie and her friends, there was a table near the front with two colts sitting down, watching the stage, and one older mare off to the right, oddly quiet, slowly nursing what appeared to be sparkling water, though that was unlikely. It didn’t appear to be an enthusiastic crowd.
“Um,” the singer said with a smile, “thank you.”
Their eyes locked, and Pinkie’s mile wide smile faded into a dopey grin.
“I’m going to take a break now,” she continued. “So, enjoy yourselves, keep drinking. I’ll be back.”
At that moment, to Pinkie’s left, Applejack approached her and handed her a drink while balancing a bottle on her head with no apparent effort.. “You okay?” she asked.
Pinkie grabbed the red frozen beverage, threw away the straw, downed the whole drink in three gulps, and dropped the empty glass on a nearby table.
Rarity cringed. “Darling, didn’t that hurt?” she asked.
Pinkie looked at Rarity, blinked two or three times, and after a few seconds, responded. “YES!” she said, relatively quietly, while gripping her head in her forehooves. After a few seconds she dropped her hooves to the ground, and began stretching her face in an attempt to rid herself of brain freeze.
Fluttershy had a hoof to her mouth in shock, her other hoof holding her scotch. Rarity looked at her yellow friend, “you shouldn’t have ordered her a frozen daiquiri.”
“I’m sorry,” she responded.
Pinkie was shaking her head vigorously, as she finished she began talking again! “AAHH! Okay, I’m good,” she said, jumping to the left to face her friends, the smile returning to her face.
“Well, that’s fantastic, Pinkie,” Applejack responded. “Come on, let’s have a seat.” She walked past Pinkie, to one of the tables; followed by Rarity, Martini floating in front of her; and Fluttershy, flying with her glass in hoof.
“Um,” Pinkie said. “Go on, I’ll catch up.”
The three looked at her. Applejack then looked back at the bar, looked back at Pinkie, and smiled. “okay sug’,” she said. “Good luck.” They walked to the table.
Pinkie looked back at the bar, and noticed the unicorn, who was on stage a few minutes earlier, talking to the bartender. Pinkie began to walk towards her.
As she approached the unicorn, Pinkie’s legs began to freeze up. It wasn’t normal for her to be this afraid. She was willing to face down two fire-breathing dragons, not at the same time though; an embodiment of the spirit of chaos; an evil pony of the night; a psychotic best friend; an army of kidnapping canines; a swarm of devouring demon bugs; even a giant hydra; and she had never truly been this scared. Not since… well, just before her last real conversation with Rainbow Dash.
Perhaps that was why Pinkie was having such a hard time speaking right now. She was afraid history would repeat itself. Then again, if she changed her approach, maybe things would end differently. Plus, her doing nothing would likely make her feel a lot worse.
Pinkie took a deep breath before continuing, ensuring she had enough oxygen to complete what she was about to say: “Hello.”
The green unicorn looked back at the source of the greeting. It was the pony from earlier, the one who really loved her song. A pony she recognised from around Ponyville.
“Hey! Pinkie Pie right!?” She asked, holding out a hoof.
Pinkie shook the unicorn’s hoof in greeting. “Yep,” she said, with a big smile on her face. “How did you…?”
“What are you kidding!? You’re pretty well-known in this town.”
“Oh, heh, yeah, I guess,” Pinkie admitted humbly, blood rushing to her cheeks. “And you’re…” Pinkie rushed around in her head finding the mare’s name, “Heartstrings right?”
“That’s what it says on the poster,” she said, pointing to the front door. Pinkie followed her hoof, where she noticed the mare’s image, plastered on the window, her name in big yellow letters.
“The Townhoof Tavern presents: Heartstrings! and her amazing lyre!
It also had today’s date plastered on it: October 11th, 4932.
“Oh… heh,” Pinkie replied, embarrassed, a nervous smile was on her face as she turned back.
Heartstrings was certainly amused. “Can I buy you a drink?” she offered.
Pinkie was already beginning to feel the effects of the drink she just inhaled way too fast. She did not need another.
“Sure,” she replied cheerily.
As the Destiny was coasting through the galaxy at faster-than-light speeds, most of the ship’s crew was sleeping. After all, they determined it to be nighttime for some reason. Before entering stasis, the ship’s crew set their time according to the time it was on earth, specifically, at Homeworld Command, where Earth’s communication stones were located. Since they lost contact, they had nothing to base the ship’s time on, so day and night was selected almost arbitrarily on the Destiny.
Almost the entire ship was quiet, except for the bridge, where a young man with hair brown was going through the ship’s database.
As he passed through page after page, he grew more and more bored, and more and more frustrated.
“UGH!” he exclaimed in frustration. Doctor Elliot Boone decided to stand up and walk around the bridge, hoping it would relax him. Examining records of every gated world in the galaxy would drain the enthusiasm out of anyone. It didn’t help that there were thousands of gates, expected given the galaxy’s size, each with dozens of pages detailing the initial scans done by the Seed Ships, so long ago.
He was looking for a world that would be a nice vacation spot for the crew. Lord knows they needed it… lord knows he needed it. But he was sick of it. No one else was helping him search, he was alone in this. Then again, he never asked for any help, but no one offered.
Boone was frustrated, angry and sad. He missed his family: Christine, his wife; and Marielle, his eighteen-month-old daughter. Actually, she was probably in her 30s by now. That scared him. His own daughter was older than him, possibly even had children of her own, and she likely had no idea why her father was never in her life. So right now, all he wanted was to go back to Earth and tell her how sorry he was, how much he missed her. Tell her that he never wanted to leave her, and if he could go back, he’d change everything.
He would have never gotten into computer engineering, he would have never joined the Icarus Project, he would have never stepped through the gate, and he would have never gotten into that pod.
He never thought he would be in there for 27 years, it was completely unexpected. From his point of view, it was like his age doubled overnight.
The worst part was: he never saw Marielle with his own eyes. He missed his daughter’s birth while he was at Icarus, and kept putting off vacation time to see her, since computer problems were so frequent there. Yet another regret.
He did eventually see her, but through the eyes of another. The communication stones allowed that. But there was no way for her to understand that the man in front of her was her father. Especially considering he looked completely different almost every time.
His only hope was that his wife one day explained to Marielle what happened, and she didn’t resent him for it. Perhaps the program went public, and everyone understood. But he couldn’t know for certain, and it killed him inside.
He left a cup of some juice near the bridge’s central chair. It was an odd beverage, from a fruit they discovered just a week ago. It tasted like a cross between a mango and a potato. It’s possible it might be considered a vegetable, but he figured it was best not to over-think it. They managed to create a tasty beverage out of the… plant. Much more enjoyable than straight water, and worked relatively well with Brody’s moonshine. He picked up the cup of non-spiked juice and took a sip, hoping it would calm him down. He wished he there was a bit of alcohol in it.
It was the lack of knowledge that bothered him the most. If only he knew for certain that Christine and Marielle were okay, then he might be able to sleep a little bit better. Christine, she must be in her 50s by now. Did she move on, assume he’s dead? Did she decide to wait for him? Was she even alive? All this tore him up inside, and aggravated him so much, eventually, he snapped.
Screaming in frustration he threw the half-filled cup across the room, to the back of the bridge, through the open door. Nearly missing a shocked Chloe Armstrong, who just about to enter the room.
Boone was frozen in surprise, he was not expecting anyone to come by this late. Realizing he needed to react or at least move, he put his hands in his pockets and casually greeted her, “Hey.”
Chloe was a bit apprehensive as she entered. “Hello Doctor Boone,” she responded. “Everything alright?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he lied. “So, what brings you here this night?”
“Oh, couldn’t sleep,” Chloe explained, as she approached the front of the ship. “Figured I go over the shield logs.” She sat down in front of the far-right console, opposite Boone. “What have you been doing?” she asked with a genuine curiosity.
“Oh, I was searching the database for a vacation spot,” Boone explained.
“Oh, anything interesting?” she asked.
Boone took a deep breath and replied, “Not yet,” as he sat down at the far-left console, and got back to work.
“Need a hand?” she asked.
“No, no I’m good,” he replied.
As the two got to work, Boone took off the blue jacket he was wearing. It was very dusty, and since it was his only set of clothes, he hadn’t bothered to wash it recently. It just wasn’t worth the trouble… yet.
A silence descended on the Bridge, the only noise coming from the FTL drive. Boone felt uncomfortable, so he decided to break it.
“So, how are things?”
“Oh, pretty good.”
“Really? How’s Scott?” Boone didn’t want to bring it up, but he was also desperate for conversation. Chloe looked at him. “Small ship.”
Chloe sighed in resignation. “So you know?”
“I just wish he told me.”
“Maybe he thought it wasn’t a big deal,” Boone theorized as he continued to flip through the database.
“Not a big deal?” Chloe was shocked, her attention turned from the console, to be completely focused on Doctor Boone. “His ex is also his coworker. Most of the time he spends away with me, he spends with her. That’s not a big deal?”
Chloe was talking about Scott’s relationship with Lieutenant James. The two of them were very close before their arrival on the Destiny, but Chloe only learned about this recently, and was not too happy about how she found out.
“Well, when you put it like that…”
“I’m not upset that he’s working with her, I’m upset he didn’t tell me about it, like he was hiding it.”
“You think he was cheating on you?”
“No, I-I don’t know.”
Another, much more awkward silence descended. “Well for the record, I heard they never actually broke up.”
Chloe looked at him as if to say, “you’re not helping.”
The two turned back to their work, before Boone asked another question. “We haven’t got a connection on the stones yet, have we?”
“Hmm?” Chloe asked, before realizing what he was asking. “Oh, no, not yet. Colonel Young thinks Homeworld Command may only be checking the stones once a year.”
“Great… so it could take a year before we contact them.”
Chloe was curious, “You worried?”
“We’ve been out of contact for 27 years, yeah, I’m worried.” Boone tried to get back to work, but his curiosity was peaked.
“What do you think might have happened?”
Chloe began thinking. “Uh… well, by now the program probably went public. Everyone knows about us. Heh, we might even be national heroes,” she added with a chuckle.
Boone laughed too. That thought made him happy, that everyone might know he wasn’t to blame for leaving his family. He wondered why Chloe didn’t mention her family. Did she not care about them?
“You?” Chloe asked, almost as a courtesy.
“I don’t know, all I keep thinking about is my daughter.”
Chloe didn’t ask to elaborate, because she already understood to a certain degree. Matt was also worried about his son. That was the worst part of their absence. The people with kids back on Earth, never saw them grow up, and those children were without their parents. Chloe could only imagine what that was like. Even the thought pained her deep inside. She already lost her father, he died saving the rest of the Destiny crew, but the thought of never knowing him, she couldn’t tell if it was worse.
Boone went back to his work.
“I don’t know, maybe I overreacted,” Rainbow Dash said.
Both her and Princess Luna were still on one of the castle roofs. They were lying on their backs, looking up at the stars.
“From what you say, it sounds like she was very aggressive,” Luna responded. “Perhaps it was a natural reaction. Once could even claim self-defence. I am just glad I never needed to contend with that type of reaction.”
Rainbow thought about it for a few seconds… it certainly felt like a natural reaction at the time. But she definitely understood why Pinkie responded the way she did. It was fear. Fear of losing Rainbow. But Rainbow also knew that there was more. She knew why she reacted the way she did, and she also knew it wasn’t a natural reason. It was anything but.
She never told anyone about it. The only one who knew was Gilda, and that was only because of her involvement. Perhaps it was time to change that.
“It wasn’t,” Rainbow said.
“It wasn’t natural or self-defense,” Rainbow said. “Luna, can you keep a secret?”
“Of course,” Luna replied. “I have become a bit of an expert at keeping secrets. I am sure you are unaware of Celestia’s real mane colour.”
Rainbow turned her head to look at Princess Luna, who merely touched her nose in response. The two of them laughed again. Something they’ve been doing all night.
When they calmed down Rainbow explained. “Well, this is a lot bigger than that. I need your word you will never tell anyone, not even Princess Celestia,” she said, pointing a hoof at the princess, in an attempt to drive the point as far as she could.
Luna was hesitant, but agreed. “Very well, what would you like to tell me?”
Rainbow was also hesitant. She stood up before properly sitting down and facing the Princess. Luna noticed this and did the same. This was a big deal for her, but she knew she had to tell someone, and she knew she could trust Princess Luna, even though they only just became friends that evening. But, Luna opened up to her, now, it was time for Rainbow to reciprocate. This was her biggest secret, one she couldn’t even tell her best friends, and she was going to tell the ruler of this nation all about it.
“Have you heard the of the name, White Snow?”
It was a late night at the Townhoof and Pinkie decided to spend the rest of the evening there. After all, she was never one to miss a party.
But that wasn’t the only reason. As she looked up on the stage, she saw why she was there.
Fluttershy, Rarity and Applejack had all left, they needed to wake up early the next morning, leaving just Pinkie and Heartstrings.
Of course there were others in the bar, but Pinkie didn’t notice them, nor care about them.
In front of her was a simple dark brown drink. Must have been her third or fourth that night. Right now, her attention was focused on the stage, with the alcohol buzzing in her head. The guitar was gone, and in its place was a golden lyre with eight strings, but it wasn’t floating. In fact, the unicorn’s horn was quiet. A stand was placed for the microphone in front of her, and she was leaning back on her hind legs in a sitting position. Her left foreleg was holding the lyre, while her right foreleg was ready to play it. This was her last song of the night, and she was going to do it right.
The strings were plucked in a melodic pattern, as the mare sang.
Take me now, filly here as I am
Pull me close, try to understand
Words flowed through her mouth like a river. It was the most beautiful sound to ever meet Pinkie’s ears. She tried to lose herself in the music.
Come on now, try to let me prove
The love I feel, when I’m in your hooves
Hold me close, come undercover
They can’t hurt you now…
As the song ran on, Pinkie was rocking back and forth to the music. Letting it dictate her movements. It was such euphoric experience for her.
Come on now, try to understand
The way I feel, under your command
Take my hoof, as the sun descends
They can’t touch you now, can’t touch you now…
Normally she spent her life jumping off the walls, but tonight, she didn’t want to. The sound calmed her… relatively, and it made her very happy. It was like a drug.
Because the night, belongs to lovers
Because the night, belongs to lust
It could have been the song itself, or it could have been the sound of Heartstrings voice, or it could have been the alcohol. But the funny thing was, alcohol normally got her jazzed up, so that couldn’t have been it.
I believe it’s time, too real to feel
So take me now, take me now, take me now.
Heartstings ended her song with a flourish, and thanked the crowd as they applauded. Next to Pinkie, there was only one other pony in the bar, one of the two colts she noticed when she arrived.
“Goodnight everypony,” she continued, “get home safe, don’t drink and fly.”
To her left, sat an open case. Heartstrings placed her lyre in it, and closed the lid. She needed to pack up her equipment for that night. Pinkie hoped there was something she could do to help.
She approached the stage as Heartstrings was placing a pair of bongos across her back.
Heartstrings noticed Pinkie and reacted. “HEY!” She said, “You saying goodbye?”
Pinkie was taken slightly aback by this. She thought for a second that maybe she should. It’s possible Heartstrings was just acting nice, and this was some subtle cue to back off. Then again, that could just be the fear talking. She came to ask a question, and dammit, it was going to be asked!!!
“No-no… I was going to ask if you needed help.”
“Um… with your stuff!?”
Pinkie thought for a minute that Heartstrings might say no, which she could’ve, very easily.
“Oh!” Heartstrings smiled, “sure!” she said. Her horn glowed as her guitar entered a soft, guitar-shaped, black, leather bag; and floated towards Pinkie. A leather strap hung down from the bag, and as the bag was placed on her back, the strap underneath was buckled.
“Hold on,” Heartstrings said as she balanced the bag on Pinkie’s back before, quite suddenly, the strap tightened! It nearly scared Pinkie, she was not expecting it.
Heartstrings then turned away, packing the rest of her gear, A small saxophone and harmonica, as she said, “You break it, it’s your head.”
Pinkie’s eyes went wide, but when Heartstrings looked back with a clever smile, Pinkie’s expression turned into a sheepish grin.
All the gear was packed up, as the sax and lyre cases were strapped to Heartstring’s bongos, one on each side, and the harmonica was slipped into the guitar case on Pinkie’s back.
“Alright, let’s go,” Heartstrings said as she walked towards the front door. Pinkie followed in her wake, with a smile on her face.
On the Destiny, Doctor Boone’s research was going really slowly, and as he got further into the database, he began to feel that he should either lower his standards, or give up. The deeper he got, the longer it would take to get there. The crew needed some time off sooner, not later. Some time to get their minds off their troubles.
He was kidding no one. He was really thinking about himself, not the crew.
Suddenly, standing right behind him, was Chloe Armstrong, apparently done whatever she was doing.
“Let me help you,” she said. It almost sounded like an order.
He made a look that said, “fine,” as she took the console next to him.
“What exactly are we looking for?” she asked.
“I told you-”
“I mean precisely,” she interjected before he got upset. “What stats are we looking for?”
“Well,” he began to explain, “first off I’m looking at the basics.” He pointed to his screen, “like this one: we got oxygen, CO2, nitrogen, worth looking at.” He pressed a button, turning the page. “Next, Gate location, could be important. Here, it’s located in a temperate zone, that should be good. Then there’s possible life forms. Hope there’s nothing too dangerous. Here it’s saying: precursors of civilization and…” Boone stopped, his interest peaked, as was Chloe’s. He read on. “Diverse biosphere, yellow dwarf star, gravity similar to Earth’s, and… What the-?”
“What?” Chloe responded.
“Am I reading this right?” he asked as he pointed to the screen.
“I think so… what does it mean?” she was confused.
“I don’t know, I’ve never seen that flag before,” as was Boone.
The young Mr. Wallace appeared before her. “Yo!”
“What is this?”
He looked at the screen, looked back at her. “Um… you mean ‘exactly’?”
“I don’t know.”
Chloe was surprised.
Boone asked, “What?”
“He doesn’t know.”
Boone was surprised too. “I guess we have to go there to find out.”
“Should we tell Doctor Rush?”
“He probably wouldn’t like being woken up this late.”
“I’m sure he won’t mind once he finds out we found a planet flagged ‘Mission Critical.'”
“Probably not, but it can wait till morning.”
Chloe paused. “So… guess we found a vacation spot.”
A few blocks away from the Townhoof, a small two-story apartment complex stood. On the second floor, two mares were walking down the main hall.
“…and that’s how music saved Ponyville!” Pinkie explained.
“Good thing you knew their one weakness,” Heartstrings replied with a chuckle. “You know I remember that, one of them ate my birthday pie.”
“Aww, it was on your birthday?” Pinkie was a bit saddened to hear this.
“Heh, yeah, my cousin Candy Stripe bought me another one though,” Heartstrings said. Trying to ease Pinkie’s feelings. “Or… at least she tried, before the dang things tried eating the town.”
“Yeah, Twilight really screwed up that day!”
“You gotta introduce me to her, she sounds like a riot!”
Pinkie giggled softly.
Heartstrings stopped at a door labeled 212, before levitating a key from a side pocket on one of her cases.
Just then Pinkie asked, a bit confused, “birthday pie?”
Heartstrings paused, “I like pie!”
As she opened the door to her domicile, the two stepped inside.
The walls were painted a pale yellow. To the right of the front entrance was a sitting room with several cushions scattered around. To the left was an open kitchen, almost merged with the sitting room, except for a single counter-top crossing and dividing the room. On the other side of the room, were two closed doors, behind which held who knows what.
“Here,” Heartstrings said, interrupting Pinkie’s thoughts. “I’ll take that.” The guitar case on Pinkie’s back levitated off her, as the strap that was holding it in place unbuckled.
As she brought all the equipment through the door on the right, Pinkie could see a drum kit in the room. Some type of practice room she guessed. As Heartstrings closed the door behind her, Pinkie opened her mouth wide and yawned. Her rear dropped and she brought a hoof to her mouth to cover it. This prompted an appropriate inquiry from Heartstrings.
“Tired?” she asked. “Where do you live?”
“I rent a room over Sugarcube Corner,” Pinkie said as she finished her yawn.
“That’s on the other side of town,” she said pausing to think. “You’re staying the night!”
“What?” Pinkie asked, as a shiver ran up her right-back leg.
“Yeah, it’s no problem, I have a double-wide bed, should be big enough for both of us,” she looked at Pinkie, whose face went beet red. “To sleep,” she clarified, “and nothing else.”
“Oh! Heh!” Pinkie responded in relief with a smile.
Heartstrings then continued, “I mean you’re cute and all, but I’m just not that kind of mare.”
Pinkie’s face went red again and her entire body tensed up. Heartstrings trotted over to her kitchen as she proclaimed with a smile. “AH! There it is!”
Pinkie smiled sheepishly.
Tears were flowing down Rainbow’s face, the pain, despite being years old, was still fresh. She didn’t even truly realize how much, until that moment.
Luna was shocked at what Rainbow just told her. It chilled her to the bone. She knew ponies like that existed, this was not news, but to hear it in such detail from this point of view, was extremely shocking. The tales she heard in the past were sanitized. This one was not.
“Oh… my,” Luna’s response came. It was all she could think to say.
“They told me I was the lucky one,” she continued. “But it didn’t help. I heard it’s called ‘survivor’s guilt.'”
Luna was speechless. She didn’t know how to react. So she merely sat there, waiting.
“I think that’s why I…” Rainbow choked up, but she didn’t need to complete the sentence, the Princess knew what she was going to say.
Luna couldn’t think of how to respond. She was still trying to comprehend it. But nonetheless, she realized just how strong Rainbow was.
“It shouldn’t still get to me, but it does, and I… I…” Rainbow quickly broke down into tears.
Just then, Luna grabbed Rainbow in a hug, and said the first thing that came into her mind. “Rainbow, it’s okay, it wasn’t your fault, it’s over now.”
“I know, I just… I’m so weak,” she cried, quietly, lest someone overhear her. “It’s been so long, it shouldn’t still get to me but-”
“Rainbow, you are not weak, you are among the strongest ponies I know,” Luna explained. “To go through all that and still be able to make friends, trust them, and keep such a cheery demeanour? That is nothing short of astonishing.”
A smile crept onto Rainbow’s face as she pushed the Princess away. “You think so?” She asked.
“Yes, most definitely.”
Rainbow thought about that for a minute. It made her feel just a little bit better. In fact, just telling the Princess made her feel just a little bit better.
It was at this point, Rainbow realized, she should tell one more pony. Pinkie deserved that much.
The next day was a big one for the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Or at least it would be once Apple Bloom arrived.
“What’s taking her so long?” came the voice of a young white unicorn with a pink and purple mane, named Sweetie Belle.
“She needs to take care of Spike,” Scootaloo explained to her companion.
The two were waiting inside the Cutie Mark Crusaders Headquarters. The Crusaders were a small group, consisting of Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle. Their goal: to earn their cutie marks. A milestone in everypony’s life, when they discover their special talent, they are automatically granted a mark on their flank symbolizing it. It was the goal of these three ponies to travel this road together. Just the three of them. It was their number one priority, but it wasn’t their only priority.
“She’s been there for two hours, what the hay?!” Sweetie Belle continued.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean she should be there, serve him his food, and split, what’s this hanging around for hours!?”
“Maybe she genuinely enjoys his company. Spike’s a nice guy, he deserves better than a that.”
“I’m not saying he doesn’t, I’m saying there are more important things in this world,” Sweetie Belle responded, as she crossed the room to the window closest to town. She was trying to watch out for the third member of their group, and so far, she was absent.
“What’s with you anyway!?” Scootaloo asked.
Sweetie Belle turned around, perplexed.
“You seem so…” Scootaloo was searching for the word, “…anxious. Relax. She’ll be here.”
“She wasn’t yesterday,” Sweetie Belle rebutted.
“Well, that’s because she was taking care of Spike,” explained Scootaloo. “And if you hung out with us at lunch you’d know that!”
“Well, I was getting my plan ready.”
“Yeah, you haven’t told me about that yet,” Scootaloo realized.
“Well, that’s because you wanted to wait for Apple Bloom.”
“Well, now I’m fine not waiting, tell me!”
“Well, if you think she’ll be here, then we’ll just wait for her, I hate repeating myself.”
Scootaloo had another thing to say, “well in the meantime, relax, and stop being so mean, you’re acting like your sister, or Diamond Tiara.”
Sweetie Belle was shocked! “You take that back!!!” she yelled, pointing an accusatory hoof towards her winged friend.
Scootaloo didn’t respond to Sweetie’s request because out the window she saw a familiar face, “OOO! Look at that,” she said.
Sweetie Belle turned around, saw Apple Bloom running across the orchard, straight towards the clubhouse.
“Come on!” Scootaloo said. Sweetie Belle would have stopped her so they could continue their conversation, but the pegasus had already left. So she decided to let it go and followed her friend outside.
The two waited for Apple Bloom at the base of the ramp that leads up to the clubhouse.
As Apple Bloom approached them, she slowed down and they noticed she was breathing heavily. She lowered her head and tried lying down by slowly lowering herself to the ground, continuing to pant, trying desperately to catch her breath.
Scootaloo was the first to ask, “Did you run all the way from-” but was interrupted by Apple Bloom, who raised a hoof to silence her.
“Just… uh… gimmea… dang… I’ll… woo… it’s… hubbada.”
“I’m gonna wait,” Sweetie Belle said, as she dropped her rump right where she was standing.