New friends are found, as old friends are lost, and Applejack and Caramel discover the true scope of their latest discovery.
As Luna and Rainbow trotted through the halls of Canterlot Castle, a thought came to the younger princess.
“Rainbow, I ask that you not speak to anypony regarding what you saw under the library.”
“What? Why?” the young pegasus asked.
“It’s intended to be kept a secret. Nopony is to know.”
Rainbow was perplexed. “Then why’d you show it to me?”
The princess paused before answering. “It seemed necessary.”
“Luna!” Further down the hall, a concerned Princess Celestia trotted towards the two ponies. “Where have you been?”
“What is the matter sister?”
“I didn’t want to lower the sun until the moon was ready.”
“Oh, is it that time already?”
“Then come!” She trotted down the hall, behind Celestia. “We must make haste!”
The Princess of the Day looked down at Rainbow Dash. “What were you two discussing?”
“Oh…” Rainbow said, acting nonchalant. “Nothing much.”
“Sister!” Luna called from behind the monarch. The two ponies galloped on ahead.
Heartstrings gazed out the window. The moon was high in the sky, illuminating the orchard below. The peaceful serenity running in sharp contrast to the events of only a few hours earlier.
Rarity’s voice echoed easily over the trees. As everypony ran in the direction of her cry, they eventually came upon the mare, who was sitting in front of the unconscious forms of Applejack and Caramel. Both were taken to the farmhouse to treat their injuries and allow them to rest.
Many questions were asked. The answers were clear: Applejack made Fluttershy cry, and Caramel wasn’t happy about it.
Heartstrings would be lying if she said the story didn’t perplex her. She never knew the stallion to be violent. But of course, everypony probably has their limit, and seeing Fluttershy cry was likely his.
As she looked out the window, a rustling sound came from behind her. She turned her head as Caramel started to stir.
“Ah!!!” He screamed, bringing his hooves to his head.
Heartstrings trotted over to the earth pony. “Woah,” she said. “Relax. You’ve been out for a while there.”
“What happened?” he groaned.
She quickly explained. “You and Applejack got into a fight.”
He paused for a second, processing the information. “Oh, yeah. Now I remember.” He lied back down as he continued. “She-”
“-made Fluttershy cry, I know.”
“Ohhh…” he moaned, as his friend brought an icepack to his jaw. “Where is she?”
“In another room. We thought we should keep you two separated.”
Turning his head, he saw a glass of water. Reaching to grab it, the unicorn intervened, levitating it towards him.
As he took a drink, his thoughts began wandering. “How’s the analysis coming?”
“Oh!” Heartstrings got very excited. “Paradigm and Mercury finished it a few minutes ago.” She floated a piece of parchment over to him. “Thought you might want to read it yourself.”
Sitting up in bed, he held the icepack in one hoof, the note in the other. “Low radioactive output… theta radiation… mostly harmless.” He looked up at the green unicorn.
“Keep reading!” She still had a huge grin on her face.
As he continued to read, it wasn’t long before one of his eyes went wide with shock. He turned to look at Heartstrings, who was nodding vigorously with glee.
“Where’s Applejack again!?”
The orange earth pony sat up in bed. She adjusted the bandage around her head, trying to loosen it, but it wouldn’t budge.
“Need anything? Ice?” The yellow filly next to her asked.
Applejack shook her head, then quickly grabbed it with her hooves, cringing in pain. “How’s Caramel?” she asked, under squinted eyes.
“You got him pretty good.” The young filly smiled. “Can you teach me to fight like that!?”
“No way Apple Bloom, fighting is wrong.”
“Yes. You shouldn’t do it, and I shouldn’t have done it either. I let my anger get the better of me. That was wrong.”
“Is that also why you yelled at Fluttershy?”
Her eyes went wide as she heard this. Thankfully, a knock came at the door before she could respond. “Come in!” she hollered.
The door swung open, revealing a green unicorn, and Applejack’s former opponent. The first thing she noticed was the stallion’s face. Caramel’s right eye was swollen shut, and his jaw badly bruised. He trotted in with a limp, and a slight sway, as if he had trouble keeping his balance. But the most perplexing thing was the way his mouth was turned upwards. He was smiling.
Caramel navigated to the foot of her bed, a folded piece of parchment in his mouth. He quickly held himself up with his hoof, against the bed frame. “I got good news!” He said, dropping the note on her bed.
Applejack sighed. “Caramel, I’m sorry for hitting you.”
He blinked at her three times before responding. “That’s nice. But that’s not what I came to talk about.”
He knocked the parchment towards her, and as Applejack opened it up, she saw several notes and symbols she did not recognize. “What in the hay is this!?”
Apple Bloom grabbed the note as Caramel explained. “That, my dear hick-”
Her eyelids lowered, as her sister stifled a giggle.
“-is a full analysis of the rock samples we collected.”
“So, what is it?” asked the younger filly.
Heartstrings spoke up. “It’s a mineral with radioactive properties, but it’s mostly benign. Looks like we might have overreacted.”
“Oh,” Applejack said. “Great!”
“Yeah,” Caramel continued. “But that’s not the interesting part. This mineral has incredible applications. It can absorb a very large amount of energy, and can also generate it in even higher quantities. In Australneigh, they’re building a national mag-rail system that uses this element as it’s backbone. Out of Neighpon, they are working on devices that can basically create unicorn magic, without unicorns. Brand new flying machines, automated weather control, the possibilities are endless.” He trotted around the bed. “Applejack, Naquadah is one of the most useful, and most valuable minerals on the planet… and we found some on your land.”
Her eyes went wide. “How much?”
Caramel smiled and said, “I don’t know. Wanna find out?”
Sugar Cove was a beach town if ever there was one. Located on an island in the south-eastern region of Equestria, it was well-known for its primary industries: tourism and kelp farming. It was also known for the economic crash it experienced several years ago. Which resulted in several government cuts, particularly to the local weather service, which now consisted of three ponies, and a pidgin. It also resulted in the closure of, what was at the time, a very large strawberry farm on edge of town. But the latest boom brought the town back with a vengeance. Everypony was happy with the new wave of economic prosperity.
But one pony cared not for economic prosperity. At least, not at that moment. Her mind was elsewhere, her mind was on a new revelation that turned her life completely around. For she had finally admitted to herself the truth. The sad, horrible, tragic truth.
In the middle of her home, Fizzypop lay, her tears soaking into the floorboards. This small, purple earth pony was surrounded by the tattered remains of what was to be her birthday party. Decorations torn, food spread across the floor, toys and games, destroyed. All destroyed by her. Destroyed by her anger. Anger that was now replaced by grief. Grief because she had nopony to celebrate with. Nopony. She was truly alone, and it was on this day she finally accepted it. Next to her, the evidence of her new reality lay. Five envelopes, all boldly labelled: INVALID ADDRESS; RETURN TO SENDER. The five words that stabbed her in the heart.
The pain was too much to bear. As she lay there, sobbing, a thought came into her head: Why bother?
Across the room, where the desert table once stood, Fizzy could see the remains of her birthday cake, and next to it, the knife she was going to use to cut it for her and her… friends. The delicate blade glinting under the firelamps. Would it hurt less than this? she thought as tears continued to stream down her face.
Suddenly, her sorrow was interrupted, by frantic knocking at her front door. For several seconds, she did not move, she didn’t even speak. Eventually, the knocking came again, and she got to her hooves. “Who could that be?” She asked, her tears beginning to ebb. The strength in her fetlocks was almost non-existent, evident by her unstable stance. Regardless, she made her way across the room, and slowly opened the door.
Standing on the front stoop, Fizzy saw a pink earth pony with a curly, poofy mane, similar to her own bright red manestyle as it once was, before it ended up getting soaked with sweat and tears, which caused it to lose a significant amount of poof.
“Am I too late for the party!?” this excitable young mare said.
“What?” Fizzypop was confused. How did this stranger know about the party? “Who are y-”
“Somepony here is having a birthday party, right?” the stranger continued, in a bright and cheery voice. “Somepony named Fizzypop!?”
Fizzy was about to respond, until she saw the invitation in the mare’s hooves. Earlier in the week, as she was planning to send off her party invitations, they all got lost in the wind. The only logical solution at the time was to create new invitations, a task she now realized, was futile.
The stranger looked to the invite, then back to her, then back to the invite, then back to her, frantic, before eventually releasing a gasp and declaring, “Hey, that’s you! You’re the one in the picture!”
Picture!? thought Fizzypop.
“Oh my gosh! I knew it! I knew it!!!” The pink mare started jumping up and down in a circle, as Fizzy’s mind began racing.
She eventually remembered, she did include a picture of herself in the first wave of invites. It was from last Nightmare Night, when she dressed up as Dolomare. She always thought that suit and tie made her look ridiculous. But Island Rainbow liked it, in fact it was her idea, or at least, that’s what Fizzypop thought at the time. She now knew there was no Island Rainbow. Island Rainbow didn’t exist… she never did.
The stranger quickly told her story. “You see, earlier today, I was eating a big banana split, just minding my own business…”
Fizzypop was in shock, she could barely hear the hopping earth pony explain how she got the invite, mostly because she didn’t care. It was just all white noise to her. Eventually, her ears refocused.
“…one more pony came to your birthday party, right?”
She was numb. It made no sense. She had no friends, she had nothing! What kind of pony would just find a random invitation and cross who knows how many kilometres, to go there, to see a pony she did not know? She could not believe this. She didn’t believe it. It was too much like last time. When five ponies arrived on her doorstep one day, declaring themselves to be her friends. Five ponies she now knew were just figments of her imagination. Hallucinations crafted by her twisted psyche. This was just like then, but something was different.
The pink mare batted her eyelashes, with a smile as wide as Equestria.
Fizzypop knew what was different. This was no hallucination. This mare… she was real. But what did that mean? Given the circumstances, would this pony really want to stay?
She sighed, closing her eyes and bowing her head. “I’m glad you came,” she said with a sniff, as she tried to hold back her tears. “But there is no party!” The dam broke. “I wrecked it!” she screamed as tears rolled down her face. “Nopony came! So I destroyed it all!!!”
The pink mare gasped. “That’s terrible,” she said, pure concern in her voice. “Why wouldn’t your friends want to be with you on your birthday!?”
She tried to hold back her tears again. “It’s a long story,” she said, wiping her eyes. “The truth is, I don’t have friends!” For the first time, she said it aloud. Her sorrow overwhelming her, as she broke down again. “Nopony was ever going to come to my party!!!”
“That’s terrible!!!” the stranger cried, grabbing Fizzypop in a firm embrace. “Nopony should be without friends, especially on their own birthday!”
The purple earth pony cried with all her might. The pain overwhelming her. Tears soaking the pink mare’s coat.
It wasn’t long before the tears started to ebb once again. The stranger pushing Fizzypop away, but never breaking contact, looking into her eyes. “Don’t worry,” she said, excitedly. “There’s still enough time to get you a super mega awesome birthday party, with tons of friends to party with! I promise you’ll have the bestest birthday party ever, or my name isn’t Pinkie Pie!”
Fizzypop smiled at the news. She made a friend, a real friend! “Pinkie Pie?” she asked.
“That’s my name!” she said, trotting into her new friend’s home. She quickly got to work, finding the torn banner, she shook off all the dirt, and threw it into the rafters, where Fizzypop was surprised to see it stay, all unfurled, hanging in almost the same way it was earlier.
Looking at the mess around her, Pinkie had her work cut out for her. She quickly got to cleaning up the mess left behind by her new friend.
“So,” the pink mare said with a smile, as she looked for a mop. “Did it feel good?”
“Well…” Fizzy scratched her head. “Sorta…”
“Twilight told me about stuff like this!” Pinkie quickly mopped up the melted ice cream and soda pop. “It’s called cat thesis!”
“Yeah, that’s it! Wow, you’re smart!”
It was at this moment Fizzy trotted over to help with the clean up, after all, it was her mess.
It had been a long day for Twilight. A worrisome day. She was still pestered by the thoughts of her younger brother. The one that inexplicably hated her.
Why would anyone hate her? Much less a member of her family. It made no sense to her.
Earlier that evening, Rainbow had received a letter from Red Rain. It detailed an idea to get Moonlight to, at least, talk to Twilight. But for the time being, Twilight was to stay out of it, because of, as Red had put it: ‘plausible deniability.’ A phrase Rainbow had to have explained to her.
Twilight’s only involvement, was letting the pegasus borrow one of her dresses. Since she didn’t bring any. Rainbow wasn’t much of a clothes horse.
But that was hours ago. She hadn’t seen her best friend since. Was she alright?
Twilight lied on her bed, thinking, her eyes fixed on the ceiling. Books wouldn’t hold her attention, and that was all she could think of doing. Instead, she lay. Trying to sleep, but failing.
Her thoughts were interrupted as a blue pegasus burst into the room. “Twilight!” she screamed, flying to the middle of the room. “Oh, here’s your dress back!” She slipped the gown off and tossed it in Twilight’s direction.
As it landed on the edge of the bed, the unicorn just watched. Not moving or even using her magic for anything, she just turned her head to look at Rainbow. “How’d it go?” she asked.
“How’d what go?” Rainbow responded.
“The plan! Red’s plan!”
“OH! Right! Yeah…” She lowered herself to the floor, and began to explain. “Basically, he holds a grudge against you because you ignored him as a foal.
“What!?” Twilight sat up. “I didn’t ignore him!”
“Well, he thinks you did, he thinks you never cared about him.”
“But that’s not true!” Twilight was surprised at this revelation. She slowly began to think. “At least… I don’t think so.”
“He said when you were accepted as Celestia’s personal student you didn’t tell him, he found out several days after you left.”
“-and you never told him about how you got your cutie mark. He learned that second-hand.”
“Well, that’s hardly-”
“-and he says those aren’t just one-time events.” Rainbow trotted up to her friend. “Twilight, he took that pretty hard.”
She looked at the bed, distressed. Did she really ignore her younger brother?
“Twi, I’m an only child, so I don’t know, but if I had a brother or sister, I know I’d probably take it personally if they just pretended I didn’t exist. Especially if they were older than me.”
She looked up at her friend. “But… I didn’t.”
“But there’s good news,” she said with a smile. “I think I got through to him.”
“He might be willing to see you, since I said you changed.”
“What? Rainbow, you lied to him?”
“No, you have changed Twilight.”
“No I haven’t.”
The blue mare lowered her eyelids. “Twilight, when we first met, you shunned parties, and other social… stuff, in fact, you avoided it.”
Twilight formed a sheepish grin.
Paradigm wasn’t too happy about working late at night. Technically, she could have gone home at any time. But once the word Naquadah was uttered, there was no way she could possibly miss out on that kind of opportunity.
Technically, it was outside her field of expertise, but her primary strength was always numbers, which came in real handy when working with chemicals, and right now, numbers were why they needed her.
Placing another probe on the ground, she carefully measured from the central hub. Her horn alight, she determined the distance to be 48.92 meters… Perfect. She adjusted the tiny probe. It looked like a simple suction cup, but Paradigm knew it was more than that. This tiny little probe was designed to read sonic vibrations, and send the data to the central hub. She trotted along, following the wire back.
“Alright,” Mercury said, looking at the central hub. “We all ready?” The hub was about the size of a small cart, made of metal and dominated by a single purple gemstone at its centre. One side contained the main controls, where a series of buttons were located.
Paradigm quickly approached the controls and announced, “I think so.”
The earth pony was on the ground, fiddling with the wires to ensure they were all properly connected. “I think so,” he said.
The unicorn looked over the console, and said, “Alright! We-”
“We ready to do this?” came a voice ahead of her. Just between the trees of the orchard, four ponies trotted through. Caramel, Apple Bloom, Applejack, and Heartstrings. Two of which were in pretty bad shape.
Paradigm was taken aback. “What are you two doing here? Shouldn’t you be resting?”
“HAH!” the stallion screamed, as he limped towards them. “You really think I’d miss this!?”
The first thing she noticed was the fact that Caramel appeared to be worse off than Applejack. A blue bag, that she assumed was an ice pack, was strapped to his right eye, and he had some pretty bad bruising around his jaw. He also had bandages wrapped around his chest, and appeared to be leaning slightly on his mint green companion. In contrast, all Applejack had was some wrappings around her head, but the way she walked had a bit of a drunken sway to it.
“So,” the grey pegasus said from above. “I assume this means you two have made up?”
Applejack responded, “well, I guess-”
She quickly looked at Caramel. “What?”
He looked back, with the coldest eyes she had ever seen. “Go apologize to Fluttershy, then we’ll talk.”
She responded quickly. “It needed to be said, Caramel.”
“That’s not the point.”
“Are you two done?” Heartstrings asked, eager to get on with the test.
Caramel looked back at Applejack. “This is strictly business.” He turned to the hub. “Now, let’s see the flashy lights!” He joyously trotted over, ready to start.
“Okay, system’s set up,” Paradigm explained. “All we need to do now, is release the pulse.”
“Who’s gonna do the honours?” Paradox asked.
There were only two ponies in the area that were capable.
“You did the last job,” Heartstrings explained. “It’s my turn.”
“I got the sample,” the other unicorn rebutted. “I should do it!”
“I,” Caramel interrupted their debate. “…Don’t care! Paradigm, you do it.”
“Because right now, we need precision, and that’s not you!”
The blue unicorn quickly trotted over to a space three metres away. Placing her horn to the ground, it began to glow with a bright bronze light. The light grew brighter, and brighter, as her face expressed more and more strain.
“What is that?” Apple Bloom asked, ever the curious one.
“It’s a sonic pulse spell,” Caramel explained. “She’s going to release a bunch of sonic energy into the ground, it’ll echo off of everything down there, and we’ll pick it all up on this baby.” He tapped the machine.
Just then, the energy was shot downward, creating a loud and deep, BOOM, underneath the ground.
The force of the spell knocked Paradigm back on her rear end, she rubbed her eyes and blinked several times before she got back to her hooves and trotted towards the console.
“Did it work?” She asked.
“I… think so,” Caramel explained, as he fiddled with the knobs. “Yep, okay, let’s take a look.” Pressing one final button on the console, the purple gem began to glow with an intense light. In the air above it, what can only be described as a purple blob, was floating.
“What is that?” Applejack asked.
“That’s the Naquadah ore body,” he responded, jaw hanging.
“Looks pretty small.”
“What’s the scale again?” Mercury asked, also in awe.
“I… I think I set it to a thousand,” Paradigm explained.
“Oh, my,” Caramel reacted.
“What? What is it?” Applejack was confused.
“This thing spans almost the entire orchard, and is five hundred metres deep,” He explained. “That’s a lot of ore.”
“We don’t know the density though,” Paradox said.
“Even at a low density, that’s insane.”
“What do you say, Applejack,” the green unicorn asked with a smile. “You wanna build a mine?”
It was late at night, and it was getting later. Fizzypop’s focus was on the table in front of her, cloth in hoof. She scrubbed the surface, getting all the dirt off. It was ready. Ready for the party.
Her new friend, Pinkie Pie, was out. Getting cake, ice cream, soda, and other trinkets. Since Fizzypop destroyed almost everything, the party planner had to start from scratch. Getting all her supplies from the local retailers, which the earth ponies hoped were all still open.
They also hoped Pinkie could find some ponies willing to party the night away.
As she scrubbed the last bit of dirt from the final table, a voice came from behind her.
“I’m really happy for you.”
Fizzypop’s eyes went wide, she knew that voice.
She stepped away from the table and slowly turned around. Standing in the middle of the room, stood a single orange pegasus, with bright purple hair. Her mane short and spiky, and her smile wide. Fizzypop knew who this was, her best friend, Island Rainbow. She also knew something else. “You’re not real.”
The pegasus’ smile faded. “I know you think that and…” She scratched the back of her head. “I guess it’s true… in a way.”
“Why couldn’t you come to my party?” she asked, tears rolling down. “Why did you pick today to disappear!?”
“I could tell you but… I don’t think you’d believe me… at least not yet.”
Fizzypop was confused. What could that possibly mean!?
“All you need to know is that you have a new friend,” she slowly trotted toward the birthday-mare. “One who is kind, reliable and trustworthy.” Rainbow put a hoof on her friend’s shoulder. “Stay with her, hold onto her, and remember: We’ll always be with you.”
She quickly hugged the purple earth pony, surprising her. As Fizzypop slowly returned the hug, she closed her eyes, not noticing the bright burst of light before her, as her friend disappeared.
At that moment, Pinkie Pie burst in screaming, “Everypony in this town sucks!”
Fizzypop quickly got back onto her hooves. “What?”
“Well I got mostly everything.” She trotted straight to the freshly cleaned table, quickly unloading the white box that rested on her back. “But nopony wanted to join us, and they were such meany-mean-pants about it too! If I didn’t know any better, I’d say they don’t like parties!” Pinkie started emptying out the saddle bag, placing two board games, three bottles of soda, two cartons of ice cream, and a box of cookies down. “Also, I don’t like the bakery, I asked for Apple-Rainbow-SummerSquash Cupcakes, and they looked at me like I was crazy!”
“But that doesn’t mean we can’t still have fun!” Pinkie Pie reached into her bag again, pulling out a black disk. Throwing it across the room, it landed perfectly on the Victrola spindle. The music quickly pumped out, starting with a heavy guitar riff, as the pink party pony grabbed her new friend, and spun her around the room.
It always seemed that I was sorry for the things that I did
But never did I think about it ’til I let you in
It’s kinda funny about the time that I was fallin’ apart
You came and put me back together now
‘Cause what I want and what I need
Has now become the same things you’ve been offering
As days go by I’ve finally become what you want me to be
As the two friends danced and celebrated, noone could possibly see an orange pegasus, standing in the corner, smiling, watching.
Rainbow’s thoughts were eating at her. That ring. What did it do? Was she right? Many smart ponies have been examining it for a long time, certainly smarter than her. They would have explored the gateway idea. But the thought still nagged at her, what else could it be?
But one thing nagged at her more than anything: It pre-dates the Cataclysm… How!?
“Twilight?” the young pegasus whispered.
“Yeah?” her friend replied.
“You asleep yet?”
“Ha ha.” She sat up quickly, shaking a fire-lamp, which lit up the room. “Look, something’s bugging me.”
Twilight shielded her eyes from the light. Looking with scorn at the pony who so rudely awoke her. “What is it Rainbow?”
“You’re smart right? What do you know about the Cataclysm?”
“Rainbow,” the unicorn responded, sitting up. “That’s elementary school stuff, you don’t know?”
“Well… I do,” she explained nervously. “I just wanted to know what you know.”
Twilight sighed. “Well, it happened nearly five thousand years ago-we think. It’s the earliest known event in pony history, and… that’s it. There are some obscure references to it in some old books, but that’s it. We don’t know what it was, or what it did.”
Rainbow turned her gaze away, in thought. “Do you think anything could have happened before then?”
“Well some think that was when the world was created.” Twilight chuckled. “But that’s ridiculous. I mean there are fossils that are probably millions of years old. So the world existed before then.”
“Yeah but… do you know of any… objects… that are older than the Cataclysm?”
The unicorn vigorously shook her head. “Nope, but if there were, it would definitely be a major discovery, I’ll tell you that,” she said with a smile. “Why do you ask?”
“No reason,” Rainbow said as lied back in her bed.
“Is that it?” Twilight asked, eyebrow raised.
“Okay,” she lied down, and quickly used a sleep spell on the lamp.
“Do you think the Princess trusts you?”
“Of course. Why?”
Because you didn’t know about the Ring, she thought. “No reason.”
The characters of Fizzypop and Island Rainbow were created by ItsTheWhinyGuys for his story, Happy Birthday, Fizzypop.