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Found 12 results

  1. When I was a kid, a year seemed to go by very slow. But as an adult now, a year seems to go by very fast. Why is that?
  2. One thing that more often than not that the writers tend to do in cartoons (unless otherwise stated) is keep the characters at the same ages as before, even when it's unnecessary to do so. But hopefully this won't apply too much to MLP. Case in point: Pound Cake and Pumpkin Cake. It's been 3 (soon to be 4) seasons since they were born in "Baby Cakes" and with Shining Armor and Cadence about to have a foal, one has to wonder if it's time for the Cake fouls to start to grow up a little bit. Not too abruptly of course but little bits such as: learning to speak a few words. being able to eat more foods without any difficulty attending the Ponyville daycare and/or preschool developing slightly more individual personas etc. What do you think, would you like to see the Cake twins go from babies to preschool age?
  3. So, I have been thinking. Which parent will McFlurry be closer personality-wise? Be advice that I don't mean she'll be exactly like either of her parents, but it's possible to say her own personality can be comparatively closet to either of them. I think her personality will be closer to her dad rather than her mom. Appearance-wise, she already look like Cadance (two-tone curly mane, a lighter but still pink fur), so I think she should have a personality closer to her dad . I don't mean she will be a disciplined military commander, but rather closer to the geeky of her father's younger days, plus a bit of an adventure strike, and taking care of stuff herself instead of the royal guards. Got this idea from Sapphire from the Disgaea series Sweet at a moment, but danger comes and she be like....
  4. About two and a half years ago now, I was not in a good place. I'd been hurt in a relationship, not for the first time. In fact, I was sure it was the last time. My broken heart and I ate ourself into a depression, and I felt like life had lost all meaning. I wasn't suicidal or anything, but I wasn't alive anymore. I was living dead. Going through the motions, and bracing, waiting for things to get worse. I hated my ex, I hated all the ex's before her who broke my heart... I hated the world, and spread all my dark feelings into it, wanting everyone to suffer the way I was suffering. Then, around March/April (I believe. I have a tricky memory problem...), I was in a very unhealthy relationship with someone, a relationship with no emotional attachment or support, because I felt none of these things in my zombified state. We never grew close, but there was something she wanted from me beyond what we had. She nagged, begged, pleaded... and eventually I agreed, to watch a show about ponies. I have a simply rule for shows. Three episodes, or ninety minutes. If it doesn't wow me, I wash my hands of it. For whatever reason, I absolutely fell in love with this ridiculous little show about ponies. At first, it was some sort of guilty pleasure. I thought for sure all MLPFiM fans were little girls, or the [creepers] that wanted them. That's when I happened upon a documentary on Netflix, Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony. By dumb luck or serendipity, only the fates know. It helped me get over my initial feelings about the fandom, and look into a community where I might be alright with talking about my adoration of the show. That led me here, to MLP forums, in late August, 2014. I spent two or three days, poking around the forums, and the reason I ended up signing up was a string deep, thought provoking posts. There were several members, but among the lights in the sky, ooBrony shone the brightest, and eventually swayed me, albeit unintentionally, into joining. I thoroughly enjoyed my time among the members, and quickly felt the desire to protect this place, so I submitted a moderation application, and it was total trash. Both Matron and Jeric wanted to defer it, and give me a second chance in the future. But fate said "Nah, screw you guys, this kid is cool," and I filed a support ticket, because my subscription to MLPF stopped charging, even though the subscription was active. I submitted a ticket, and had my first interactions with @Feld0, who offered me a free month for bringing up the issue, to which I basically said "Y U NO TAKE MY BITS?" Because of this turn of events, when they wanted to defer me, the Almighty Feldic0rn said "Neigh. This stallion has integrity like few before him." And with that, I'd earned a second look, and eventually, an interview. I received word of their intentions on November 28th, and an official interview was scheduled on November 30th. I still have those invitations to this day. During my interview, I believe only Jeric spoke to me, though there were about a dozen staffers in the chat to observe me. I was asked about a certain group mentality that rang a bell, but I couldn't quite pinpoint the exact definition with my partially-broken brain... So I told them "It sounds familiar, but no." Then, I impressed the mighty Feld0 once more, by Googling it, and telling the chat "Now I do." (Rumor has it that the mighty Feld0 actually said "Did he just Google that while you were responding? Impressive.") After that, some time passed, and I fought to protect this forum with all my heart, as I am still doing, and will continue to do well into the foreseeable future. I was convinced to go to BABS 2015 by @Simon, and , not knowing that Simon was actually working for BABS at the time. I decided to dive in head first, split a room with my abductors-- I mean, fellow staff members, and was off to meet them in person. All the while, this Love & Tolerance was slowly changing me, restoring my youthful hope and happiness that age, heartbreak, and a negative outlook on the real world had crushed in under 25 years. Meeting up with strangers I barely knew, staff members on a forum I was still like a child on... I was becoming outgoing, mildly extroverted. It was restoring my faith in the nickname my brother had given me in my school days. The Most Extroverted Introvert. Then I was given a difficult choice. Roam the world as a pink summer-child for the rest of my days, or take The Purple, and defend the wall from the trolls and web-walkers. I made the heroic choice, and took The Purple with pride. Throughout all this, I became close with Jeric. He is my confidant, my friend, and my brother, a title few have earned from me. He helped me become a stronger staff member, and had a helping hand in guiding me to where I am today. I simply must offer a special thanks to him, because he has had the most influence on me in my time here, and he will always be my kin. In addition to his influence and help, the rest of the staff, and a multitude of members, helped me become a more outgoing person. I'm going to BABS yet again, and even added my local ComiCon to the roster this year. I've taken the hope and happiness this glorious community has restored in me, and channeled it into meeting an amazing, beautiful, intelligent woman, as well as going out with friends, and getting wild at karaoke. I'm at a peak of happiness I've not stood upon for a long time. This community, these people, YOU people... You are ALL amazing. I want all of you to know, be you staff, subscriber, or member... You are all part of a wonderful home that can help heal the broken people of the world. Every interaction you have will leave an impact on the rest of the world. Every post you make has a chance to make someone else' say. Every interaction could snowball, helping someone else become a better, happier person. Be the best you you can be, to help others become the best them. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I hope you find some inspiration, or at least joy, in my story.
  5. So I was doodling and I ended up with Spike Whup, here he is in a few years! Critiques are appreciated!
  6. So I've noticed for a lot of people, the toys and things we are given or see as a child influence us to become who we are. For example; kid given access to video games, he or she will possibly become a gamer. So then I thought after setting that rule out, what influenced me? Thinking back to my childhood. No father because of a divorce and I had a stepdad for a while (also divorced), but he barely spent time with me. The toys I had access to were mainly my few stuffed animals and any of my brother's and sister's old video games. Being a kid things like zelda or pokemon absolutely fascinated me, and i would swing a stick around like a sword and every once in a while recieve a plushie of a pokemon. Fast forward to the stepdad's divorce, we moved into a new home. My mom was always working and my sister always wanted to hang out with her friend, but had to watch over me, secretly brought me with and I met my friend Ethan. He had at least 50 pokemon plushies and we would always play pokemon mystery dungeon with them. Weird thing though, there may have been funny or awesome moments while we played, but there were sweet ones too. Like a guy pokemon giving a flower to a girl pokemon that he likes. So that wraps up the toys and stuff I had when I was a kid, and looking at myself now, it seems those tiny little games grew into so much more. Video games turned me into a strategy master and gave me a powerful analytical skill. Pokemon plushies turned me into a somewhat girly- who am I kidding I watch a show about candy colored ponies for god sake- a tomgirl and sensitive but also protective, loving, and straightforward. So I was wondering, any toys you had as a kid influence you?
  7. I have other fics in progress, but this is the first one I completed. AND HOLY CELESTIA is it long. Its almost the longest story I've ever written, and I don't even know how it happened. It sure didn't seem this long when I was planning it out, but it explains why it took forever when I looked at the page count. Expect a two or more hour read. The majority of the story is told from the first-pony perspective of Scootaloo, switching to third pony for others where necessary. I know I really should split this into sections for easier reading but after spending the last few hours rereading it to correct mistakes I just don't have it in me. I hope you enjoy my work. I'm a bit of a bully to Scootaloo, but shes a tough little sucker and takes everything I throw at her. Please give reviews, critiques, opinions...anything! Every bit helps when it comes to improving my work. Scootaloo’s growth It was a dark night, the moon only just starting it’s cycle over and providing limited light. Two pegasus ponies were flying up high in the sky, a mare and a stallion. The mare was holding what looked like a blanket in her hooves. The husband had a diaper bag around his neck. “Do we really have to travel through the night like this?” The stallion asked, squinting towards his wife. “I can barely see you.” “Oh, come on.” Said the mare with a laugh. “My big, strong husband isn’t afraid of a little darkness, is he?” “Of course not! I just don’t see why we can’t stay at a hotel for the night. Traveling from Trotingham to Fillydelphia isn’t exactly a casual flight.” “Yeah, I know. But it’s a lot easier for Scootaloo here.” She responded, looking at the little bundle in her arms, seeing her orange coat and purple mane, though it was hard to make it out with the relative darkness. “She’ll probably sleep throughout the whole ride. The up and down motions put her right to sleep. Besides, you know my mom. She’s been wanting so bad to see our newborn. She’s getting on in her years, so the trip is a lot harder on her than it would be for us, you know? Besides, Scootaloo is nearly a month old already. She’ll start saying her first words soon. It’s the best time for it.” A hard breeze passed them, pushing them back slightly. Scootaloo shivered a little, fussing at the cold. “Honey, let’s go lower where the breeze won’t be as strong.” “Alright.” He responded, the two of them heading down near the ground, flying just on top of a forest. As he turned he glanced around, noting, “Hey, I think we’re right by Ponyville. Are you sure you don’t want to just wait until the morning? I know you want her to sleep, but it is kinda chilly out here. We should at least get her another blanket.” The mare let out a sigh. “I’d rather not stop, but you’re probably right. If she wakes up from the cold it’s going to be a real chore getting her to conk back out.” “Alright, then. Let’s head this way.” He said as he changed direction, her following along. As they traveled along the stallion felt a strange sense of foreboding. He looked down at the forest right below them and, even with the dim light, noticed that the trees looked off. For some reason the trees seemed almost sinister, like the place below them was a forbidden ground where they were not welcome. From what he remembered of the few times he had visited Ponyville, this was probably the legendary Everfree Forest, where nature cared for itself. He shook his head, admonishing himself for getting all worked up on a legend. Trees weren’t alive, they had no feelings, and weren’t out to get them. However, that didn’t mean some of the creatures living there couldn’t be a threat. Even though they were only a short ways away from the edge he thought it would be better if they went high up again until they reached the town. As if on cue, as he went to say something to his wife, out of the dark came something that he had mistaken for a part of a tree branch. Before he could react it came flying at him, crashing into him and knocking him out of the air with a sinister cry. “Honey!” Cried out the mare, spinning around. Another…whatever it was…was looking at her now, and as she heard the struggle going on down below she found herself torn between going after her husband or trying to protect her child. The voice of her husband cried out, “Go! Get Scootaloo to safety.” That was that. She turned and flew, flapping her wings as hard as she could as the creature flew after her. She didn’t know whether the creature was simply trying to chase out intruders from its territory or whether it was a carnivore looking for its next meal, but in the end that wasn’t important. She had to get away from it, for Scootaloo’s sake. To her panic the thing flying after her was faster than her. She could feel it catching up to her, feel it’s breath approaching her. As a last resort she made a sharp turn just before it grabbed her. It bought her a little time. She could see the edge of the forest fast approaching. ‘Just a little further!’ She thought, hoping her husband was alright. He could take care of himself, though. Her baby couldn’t. Just as she decided she’d better get more altitude something suddenly jumped in front of her. She let out a scream, tilting her body hard, flying backwards in the direction of the ground. She barely had time to get her bearings before a mind-numbing pain assaulted her as she crashed into a tree, her wing muscles feeling like they got crushed in. The feeling of the pain instantly dulled as she realized that Scootaloo had gone flying out of her hooves from the impact. She strained to fly before she hit the ground but couldn’t, her wing muscles too damaged. She decided she’d have to run it, her muscles aching from the fall. Before she ran more than a few steps a putrid smell assaulted her nose, than a chorus of howls coming from glowing green eyes. A group of timberwolves surrounded the young mare. “Scootaloo.” She said softly, dizzy and blurry-eyed from pain, tears coming down her eyes as they approached. The baby had completed its upward launch, gravity pulling her back towards the ground, crying now from being jostled and the scratches she had received from the branches nearby. She was headed straight towards the ground, momentum increasing her speed. As she neared the ground her blanket caught on a branch, halting her descent slightly before her built up momentum forced the blanket open, the baby launching out of it. With a crunch the baby hit the ground just outside of the forest, skidding along for a few feet before coming to a stop, silent now. *** An elderly mare named Peach Cobbler, an earth pony with a peach colored coat and a nearly white mane that had been pink in its time, was on a nightly walk. Her blue eyes were taking in everything without really seeing it. She had recently lost her daughter, and she wasn’t over it yet. She had taken to walking at night, being unable to sleep soundly. In her lanterns glow she picked up something that caught her interest. She could just barely make out the head and wings of a pegasus, asleep near the forest. For a moment she thought to go wake them up, but then she shrugged and began to continue on her way. Who was she to tell somepony where to sleep? Besides, they could be the type of pony who just likes roughing it in the outdoors. As she got closer to passing the sleeping pony she once again glanced at it, and this time she started to get the feeling that something was wrong. Going by the size of the wings, the pony had to be very young. And it was a chilly night. Surely not the best conditions for a campout. She struggled to ignore her feelings. Caring had become difficult for her. Everything just seemed so hollow lately. However, her good nature won the battle, and she turned and started walking toward the sleeping pony. As she did she dropped the lantern, letting out a cry that she was sure had woken up the ponies in the neighboring town. In the full light of the lantern she saw that the pegasus was gravely injured. It was also a baby, looking less than three months old. It was covered in dust, it’s wings were stuck out at odd angles, and there was blood coming from several cuts along its body. Her heart began hammering in her chest. Help! She had to get help! Thankfully she didn’t have to go far. Her scream had drawn a few other night owls. She frantically told them they needed doctors there immediately, and the young earth ponies ran off toward the hospital. The mare looked at the little foal with tears in her eyes. She really wanted to just pick up the baby and carry her to the hospital herself, but even though she wasn’t well versed in doctor care she knew enough to know that you’re not supposed to move an injured pony, lest you make their situation worse. If carried in any which way she may just wind up causing irreversible damage, not the least of which because a baby has very fragile bones. It was a very tense wait. She had dragged the lantern over to the foal, wanting as much light as possible and not trusting her aging eyes. She wanted to make sure the baby was still breathing…still alive. It was faint, but there was some definite movement in her chest. However, her breathing looked irregular. It wasn’t a steady in and out. It didn’t seem to follow any set pattern, and while she knew that was worrisome she couldn’t do anything except wait and look over the child until the doctors came. She felt a sigh of mild relief come out when she finally heard them coming back. For a moment she thought about going home when they started to take the child away, but…she couldn’t get that image out of her head, of the damage that poor foal had suffered. She found her hooves following after them. She pictured her daughter, so recently gone from this world, and she felt she had to know. She had to know if that child was going to survive, and what was to become of her. Hours passed, and at times she was certain she had fell into a light sleep as she sat in the emergency room waiting area, but she’d always wake up feeling alert. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, a doctor came out to talk to her. “Well?” She cried out, surprised at her voice. It felt unnaturally loud. The doctor removed his face mask with a sigh. “Her injuries are pretty serious, but she’s stable. From what we can tell she fell from a good height or with significant force. Her wing muscles were crushed and she seems to have hit her head and has a concussion. She also appears to have injured a lung. From what we could tell of her examinations, while she has a long rehabilitation period ahead of her, there doesn’t appear to be any threat to her life.” She felt tears coming down her eyes, feeling so glad at the news. “Are you a relative of this pegasus?” The doctor asked, noticing she didn’t have wings. “N-no.” She replied, wiping her eyes. “I was just the one who found her. “C-can I see her?” “Sure. However, it’s not a pretty sight.” She followed the doctor along to the intensive treatment ward. Inside an incubator lined with transparent glass usually used for premature foals was the pegasus. Her head was wrapped up in bandages as well as her wings and chest, and over her mouth was a mask, pumping oxygen into her system. On several parts of her body were wires attached to suction cups, monitoring her vitals. Her eyes were closed, little tremors running through her body as her eyes clenched like she was in pain or having bad dreams. The doctor sighed again. “Unfortunately, because she is so young, we are limited in what we are able to do for her. It’s not safe to give her even the smallest dose of some medicines, surgery is out of the question for her wings as the bones are so brittle, and with them already being broken it could wind up crippling them for good. The best we can do is give her what medicines we can to numb the pain, and hope that her wings heal naturally.” She watched the movement of the foal’s chest, more steady now. “So what’s going to happen to her now?” “She’ll have to stay in intensive care until she heals up. It’s going to be at least two to three months before she could be considered fit to be released. If she was older, a year or two, I could cut that estimate in half, but babies are very fragile. “You said you found her. Do you have any idea what happened?” “I’m afraid I don’t.” She said sadly. “I was just walking along when I spotted her sprawled out on the ground near a forest.” “I see…” He glanced over at her. “Regardless, thank you for alerting someone to her. She probably wouldn’t have survived without you.” “Thank you.” She replied. She headed home, but just like before she couldn’t sleep properly. Only this time it wasn’t only her deceased daughter that troubled her spirit, but the sight of the half-dead pegasus all alone near the woods. She saw the pegasus with her body practically wrapped in bandages and breathing through a tube. She fell into half-sleeps, but always seemed to wake up only five or ten minutes later. When the morning finally came she was grateful. She left her house, deciding to go for a walk. She thought of going to the hospital to check up on the baby, but she changed her mind. She hadn’t been able to get the image of that poor child out of her mind all night, and she didn’t think she could take it if she had to see the baby in real life. A few days went past, and still the child nagged at her mind. Though she wanted to go check up on the child, the critical side of her kept dissuading her, telling her that she had done her only duty of making sure the foal got to safety, and it wasn’t her business what became of her after that. And the voice was right, of course. However, when she found herself suddenly walking by the hospital she couldn’t make herself keep going. Whether the child was alive or dead, she just had to know or it might drive her insane. A minor issue came to her as she walked up to the reception desk. She didn’t know the child’s name. Who was she supposed to ask for? In the end, she had to describe the pony to the nurse. She was brought back to the intensive care room, where she saw the baby was still in the protective box. The white-maned nurse said, “She’s still in stable condition, and looks to be healing. However, she hasn’t regained consciousness yet. She’s started breathing on her own again, but for now we’re keeping her in here for her own safety, just in case her condition starts to go south again.” She walked up to the glass. “Oh, you poor little thing. Having to endure so much at such a young age. At least you’re safe, where no one else can harm you.” In the silence that seemed to permeate the room except for the steady hum of equipment, the sound of her hoof touching the glass felt unnaturally loud to her. To her surprise it seemed to be enough for the child too, as there was a sudden movement from inside the glass, and suddenly bleary eyes were staring back at her, half lidded and almost devoid of life. The contact lasted only for a few moments, before the babies whole face scrunched up and she let loose with a mighty wail, shouting her displeasure at the lights blinding her and the pain coming from her wings as she naturally attempted to move them. Her lungs sure sounded okay, but even without the now rapid beeping of the monitor she could see the baby was starting to work itself into a frenzy, and that wasn’t good for her. She asked the nurse if she could take the baby out. The nurse said she could, as long as she was very careful to not touch her wings. When she agreed the nurse opened the incubator, and Peach Cobbler gently took the wailing infant out. She gently held the pegasus close to her, blocking the bright lights that were traumatizing her. She gently spoke soothing words to her, maternal instinct taking over. The beeping of the monitor slowed down slightly. Getting an idea, she began to sing one of the most popular lullabies around town. “Hush now, quiet now. It’s time to lay your sleepy head…” It definitely seemed to do the trick, as the foal began to settle down more, snuggling into her hold more. In her own primitive way, the baby felt a feeling of safety. The one holding her didn’t sound like mommy, but she certainly felt like mommy. And in her confused state, she was willing to cling to anything that would comfort her at the moment. Asking the nurse to dim the lights, she began gently rocking the child while still singing. Her voice was raspy and her tempo was off from not needing to do such a thing for so long, but the baby didn’t seem to mind. Little by little the pegasus calmed down, the beeping of the monitor becoming more and more quiet. As she looked at the seemingly sleeping child in her lap, she felt a sense of nostalgia, then right after that a feeling of loss as she was reminded of her daughter. It wasn’t like her daughter was this young when she died. She had been grown and married. But…the act of holding a baby just brought her back to those times of holding her own child back then. Placing the baby back into her protective box she decided to leave to let the doctors take care of the child. As she left the hospital, she felt relief. Like a fly following her around the buzzing voice of her critical side began to attack her. Yeah, she’s okay. Are you happy now? Now you can leave it alone, right? I mean, what are you expecting here? She wasn’t really expecting anything. Was it a crime to have a heart? Who wouldn’t feel a desire to follow up after finding any pony, adult or child, in such a state? She found herself walking along the path she had been walking the night before, coming up upon the Everfree Forest. Along the way, something made her pause. She was fairly certain she had arrived at the spot where the baby had been found. Near the trees were marks where it looked like something had been drug along the ground, along with a few patches of burned grass, likely from when she had dropped the lantern and sent some embers flying. She sat down, looking at the spot for a few minutes, in her mind seeing the baby still there. A flutter of movement caught her attention. She had been seeing it for a while, but she had been ignoring it. She looked up towards it, seeing a pure white that contrasted heavily with the relative black of the forest. Dragged forward by curiosity she entered the forest, hearing nothing but the sound of her own hooves. She came upon a blanket stuck in a tree, flowing in the wind. She looked back behind her, looking at the skid marks on the ground and making a connection, about the doctor telling her the baby had either fallen from a significant height or with great force. For a moment she went to look for a loose branch to knock it out of the tree, but then she stopped, wondering why she needed to. What was she going to do with it? Keep it as a memento? She shook her head. She didn’t need her critical voice to know she was being foolish. Something else nearby on the forest floor suddenly caught her attention. It was a medallion, shaped like pegasus wings and bearing the word “Scootaloo.” “Scootaloo.” She said quietly. Was that the name of the baby? More connections started forming. Going from the blanket and the distance between the skid marks the child had to have been dropped, whether on accident or…no…she couldn’t ever think to say it was on purpose. Who would throw away a baby? This was the Everfree Forest after all. It had some of the most rare and dangerous creatures Equestria had to offer. Thinking of that, she decided she shouldn’t stray too long. In the end, though, she did knock down the blanket from the tree, taking both it and the medallion with her. If those were the babies possessions, then she deserved to have them. The next day she went to visit the child again. She had washed the blanket, and presented her findings to the doctor. He felt that it seemed likely that was the babies name, so he marked it down, crossing out the placeholder name of Jane Mare. When she saw the foal she smiled. She was being relatively quiet, moving around in her little box. “Hello there, Scootaloo.” Scootaloo turned toward her at the sound of her voice. There was a curious look on her face, almost like she was wondering something. “How are you today?” A small smile came to the babies lips as she heard the voice again, starting to recognize it as the same voice as yesterday. She opened the side of the box, holding the child close to her, talking and singing to her like yesterday. Scootaloo sure enjoyed it. She hadn’t heard mom or dad yet since waking up, but she knew she liked this pony. Over the next week Peach Cobbler found herself visiting the hospital every day to play and care for the young foal. However, the more days that passed, the more worried she grew. She thought it was only going to be a temporary thing until her parents eventually showed up. There didn’t seem to be any panicking pegasi running around searching for a missing daughter. Had it really only been an accident or was there actually something sinister behind it? She still didn’t want to imagine, after her hurt over losing her own daughter, that ANY pony could be so heartless as to try to get rid of their own child. She decided to take a day and try to see if Scootaloo’s family was local to Ponyville. Even if there was some kind of attack, that would mean someone besides the baby had gone missing. A pony that likely would have had connections to some others in town. However, even armed with a picture of the baby and scouring half of town, she was unable to locate anyone who recognized Scootaloo, nor was there any missing pony reports. So did that mean that they may have been from Cloudsdale? It was going to be a futile endeavor to go beyond Ponyville. There were far too many place she could have come from. A month passed, and still no one had come looking for the young foal. Scootaloo made slow but steady improvement. And as her health improved, so did her moods. She became more and more cheerful, though it was clear she was starting to get bored of being confined to one room. She wanted to run and play and explore, as is normal for a kid her age. Finally the day came where her injuries were considered healed enough to be released. One of the nurses, Nurse Redheart, who Peach Cobbler knew quite well by now, came to her. “Can I talk to you?” “Of course.” Peach Cobbler replied. “Scootaloo is doing very well. Her injuries have healed up nicely, and while she’s still going to need to be careful with her wings for the next few months, we’ve reached the point where there is nothing further for us to do.” “I understand.” The nurse closed her eyes with a slight sigh, hesitating before meeting Peach Cobbler’s eyes again. “No family member has ever come looking for her. As such, we don’t have much of a choice in the matter. Within the next few days or so, she’ll have to be shipped to an orphanage to make room for baby ponies who really need the equipment. Since no one has come forth to claim responsibility for her…would you be interested in adopting her?” The question took Peach Cobbler by surprise. “Me?” “Yes. I hate to ask, but you’ve clearly made an impact on her. She’s grown very comfortable in your presence, and it’s not healthy for a developing child’s mind to constantly be switching to new people or they’ll start developing a fear of abandonment. Even if that wasn’t the case, a baby living in an orphanage just feels too sad. And even though ponies who adopt are usually good hearted ones who want to add a new member to their family, very few of them want to deal with ‘damaged goods.’ Doubly so in a baby. I…” She suddenly stopped talking, closing her eyes and sighing again before saying in a sad voice, “I’m sorry.” “Sorry?” “Yes. As a nurse I’ve seen many things no one would want to see, but I’m supposed to maintain a professional detachment from my work. Yet here I am, practically guilt-tripping you into taking her without even knowing what your home situation is or whether you could care for her, and for that I’m deeply sorry. If I have anything to say in my defense…it’s that no matter how much I see, it’s impossible to completely close out feelings when it comes to seeing babies as young as this have their lives upended.” “I forgive you.” Said Peach Cobbler. Speaking to herself now she said, “Adopt her?” She looked at Scootaloo on the floor. When their eyes met Scootaloo let out a little fake scream of fear, hiding behind her hooves. Then she poked her head out saying, “Eek-a-poo!” She giggled before hiding again, repeating her words and actions. It brought a smile to her face. In her mind she thought, ‘Nurse Redheart does have a point though. And…this child needs me.’ As she looked at the baby still playing her little game of peek-a-boo, she knew that that was wrong. ‘Well, it may be true that this baby DOES need somepony to look after her…it could be any pony who does it. It’s much more correct to say that…I need her.’ And as she thought that, she knew that it was true. She had been coming to the hospital every single day, just to spend time with Scootaloo. It wasn’t like she had anyone waiting for her at home anymore. Scootaloo had been filling the void left behind by the loss of her daughter. She had grown too attached to the little girl now to think of just leaving her behind to be raised in an orphanage, possibly for years never getting a real home to live in. It was too upsetting to think of letting that happen. On the other hoof, though, she wondered if she was capable of raising Scootaloo. Sure, she had the loving and comforting part down pat from her own experience as a mother, but there was much more to raising a child than that. She was retired, and with a combination of money she had saved when she was younger and some assistance programs she was pretty well off on money by herself, but the cost of a child is very expensive. Aside from that, she was also quite old and an earth pony. How was she supposed to chase around and keep an excitable, untiring baby from getting hurt? And what would happen to Scootaloo when she died? She was in good shape, but the older she got the harder it would be to maintain that. What if she died before Scootaloo was smart enough to ask for help or get out of the house? She might starve to death before any pony knew what was going on. Despite the risks associated, she again knew that there was no way she couldn’t go through with it. Not taking Scootaloo along with her would be like losing her child all over again. “I…I’ll do it.” She said finally. If worst came to worst, she could always try to find another family to give Scootaloo to. “Thank you.” Said Nurse Redheart. “It makes me feel really relieved to hear that. I’ll grab the paperwork you need. In cases where there is no family member in which to give a child back to, adoption is usually an easy process. There are conditions of course. You have to go through a physical and mental check-up, and the hospital itself can’t approve your application. All we can do is give you a letter of recommendation to the Ponyville adoption agency, explaining the situation.” As Nurse Redheart said, the process went smoothly. Within a week Scootaloo was now considered her grandchild, and her Scootaloo’s grandmare. The first two months were the toughest. Scootaloo was very curious of her new home, and she kept trying to pull at the bandages on her wings with her hooves. Even though they were supposed to be nearly healed, the doctors thought it would be for the best to keep them wrapped for a longer time frame just to be sure, which aggravated the young foal to no end. It was a part of her, and she wanted to use them just as she used the rest of her body. In terms of money, it wasn’t ALL bad. Since she was considered to be adopting there were more assistance programs to help her in that regard, and she got either donations or extremely discounted baby supplies at certain places. Despite Peach Cobbler’s worries over a rambunctious baby, Scootaloo was actually pretty fair-tempered. She did love to explore all around the house, and she was full of energy as to be expected of a pony her age, but she was at least old enough to understand some words. And speak them too! She wouldn’t ever forget the first day she told Scootaloo that she loved her, and the young pegasus responded back, “Wuv yew too.” Although Scootaloo surely wouldn’t understand at her point of development, Peach Cobbler made it a point to tell her new granddaughter that she was not biologically her grandmare and the story of how she was found. And she resolved to tell her every three to six months so that Scootaloo would never feel she was lied to in the future. As time passed and her brain grew she would begin to understand a little more every time she heard the story, until she could begin asking questions about it. Although she had several blankets to wrap Scootaloo in to make her comfortable, more often than not she found herself giving the baby the blanket she had found in the forest. And, as she grew a little older, Scootaloo began insisting on that one as well. In her own way she felt that it was appropriate. Besides the medallion, it was the only thing that Scootaloo would have to remember that bit of her past. She wasn’t sure whether it was a parent, another family member, or even just a friend, but some pony had been carrying her near the forest. As the years passed Peach Cobbler watched the milestones come, one after another, as her granddaughter turned from a baby into a healthy filly and slowly began her own life… *** “Scootaloo! It’s time for lunch!” “Coming!” I cried out, heading to the table. “This looks really good, Grandmare. Thank you.” “No problem, my little filly.” As I ate, I thought of the conversation I had had with my Grandmare yesterday. Every few months she had told me about my past, a story I was well acquainted with by now, but she insisted on telling me anyway, because she thought it was important for me. To start with, I didn’t have any parents. Or, I suppose I must have had ones at some point, but I was too young to remember them. I lived with my grandmare. She was an earth pony with a peach colored coat, white hair that had once been pink, and blue eyes. Her cutie mark was of a jar of peaches. She told me that she had found me, no more than a foal, near the Everfree Forest. I had been unconscious and injured, both my wings sticking out at weird angles and dust covering my body. She got help that took me to the hospital straight away, where she had been told that despite my injuries there was no threat to my life. I was in the hospital for two months. She came to visit me every day, playing with me and talking to me. I liked her. When I recovered enough to leave, since she had been unable to find my parents, she offered to take me in for the time being until we could find them. It remained a great mystery for the next couple of years, as I grew from a baby into a filly. Grandmare spent a lot of her free time inquiring into me to others, but she was never able to find my parents. From what she could piece together my parents must not have been from Ponyville. Also, near the Everfree Forest in a tree was a blanket. Her best guess was that my parents had been flying too close to the Everfree Forest with me and been attacked. I had been dropped, but the blanket I had been wrapped in broke my fall slightly as it caught on the tree. I kinda wanted to believe that was the truth, but I also kinda didn’t. If that was the way things happened it meant that my parents loved me, but that they never came back for me had to mean that they hadn’t survived the attack. Maybe they knew they wouldn’t survive, and had thrown me away to try to protect me. It may sound cold, but I don’t miss my parents. I mean, how can I? I have no idea who they are. I don’t know what they looked like, how old they were, nothing. I can’t feel bad about them, no matter how hard I try to. Although the pony who found me was a bit old, she was every bit the wonderful caregiver as any mom out there. Even though she was an earth pony and I was a pegasus she raised me like her own child. Really, the fact that I had been found in such a state didn’t even bother me much. I don’t even remember that night. It didn’t matter. Or, at least…I thought it didn’t. One day on a doctor visit the doctor took some x-rays of me after I told him I wasn’t flying yet. He measured the size of my wings while we waited for the x-rays to come out. When he came back with them he didn’t look happy. “Tell me. Has Scootaloo ever suffered any serious injuries to her wings?” The doctor asked. Grandmare told him about finding me abandoned and hurt, especially around my wings. The doctor nodded sadly. “I see. That would do it.” “What would do what?” I asked. “You have what we call stunted wing.” “What does that mean?” “It can happen because of an accident, or sometimes because of a birth defect, but basically the structure of your wings has been compromised.” He placed the x-ray onto the board, and pointed out my wing structure. “If you’ll notice here, your wings are not growing in correctly. They were probably never set back correctly following your accident because you were too young to endure such a procedure safely.” “And…how is this going to affect her?” Asked my grandmare. The doctor sighed, closing his eyes for a moment. “The damage is slight enough that she’ll be able to lead a normal pony life. However…from the looks of this x-ray her wings will never grow enough to allow for flight.” “Oh!” I cried out, feeling a few tears coming down my eyes as Grandmare put a hoof around me and held me. “Isn’t there anything you can do?” She asked. The doctor sighed again. “Yes…” He said slowly. “There is a surgery that can be done. However, repairing damaged wing structures is an extremely delicate procedure. One tiny little mistake, and one can lose the use of their wings permanently. I’m sorry to say this, but because of the prohibitive difficulty of the procedure, only the best and most skilled specialists ever attempt such things. As such, the cost of the surgery will run over one hundred thousand bits.” “One…one hundred…thousand?” “Yes. I’m sorry, but this is a procedure in which a pegasus’ entire well-being is put at risk. There are, of course, discount doctors who will offer to do this kind of work for a lot cheaper, but I heavily advise against it. At worst-case scenario, a mistake could worsen the growing in of the wing structure, causing the pegasus involved to be in constant pain that has to be remedied with a heavy dose of medications every few hours. Or, in the worst case scenario, the damage could be great enough it would require complete amputation. That’s the reality of the situation.” I just sat there in shock. While I didn’t know too much about money, I did know that one hundred thousand bits was a LOT of money, and that Grandmare didn’t have a lot of money. So this was it. I was doomed to basically be an earth pony. The room started spinning, my breathing getting slowly heavier, until suddenly I couldn’t take it anymore. I ran out of the room, Grandmare calling after me but I ignored her. I ran out of the doctor’s office. I ran and ran and ran, not even knowing where I was going. I just felt like I had to keep running, or else I would break. I ran up until the point that my lungs were burning, and I somehow found myself near the Everfree Forest. I wondered for a moment as I looked around if about here was where I was found, but that thought was quickly replaced with more sadness. I sat by a tree, just crying my head off. I don’t know how long I sat there when I suddenly I heard someone calling out to me. “What’s wrong there, kid?” I looked up at the voice, seeing a mass come zooming down, hitting the ground and causing a dust cloud around her. Suddenly she hopped up and zoomed around, plucking the stuff she had been carrying out of the air before it fell. I just stared at her. The blue coat, the multi-colored mane, the look of absolute confidence. She caught my attention immediately because she didn’t act like anyone else I knew. She didn’t display the usual cautious concern you’d expect of finding somepony crying. She looked smug, but not in a mean or dismissive way, like I should be grateful she had taken time out of her schedule to check up on me. She had such an aura of total self-assurance and belief in herself that it completely pulled me away from myself and what I had just heard. She was truly…majestic. “Who…who are you?” I asked in awe. “Names Rainbow Dash! Best flier in all of Equestria.” “Whoa!” I cried out. She certainly didn’t seem like she was lying. “Will you show me some moves?” I asked excitedly. “Well, I don’t like to show off but…OF COURSE!” With that she flapped her wings, speeding straight up into the air, her body straight as possible to gain the most air, before suddenly turning and heading back toward the ground. She was going so fast I was afraid she was going to crash. There surely wasn’t enough time- But I was wrong. At the last possible second she turned, using her momentum to fly parallel to the ground, upside down, swerving around trees, at one time using a branch to spin around multiple times before letting go and flying back up high into the air, making infinity symbols in the air. I sat there spellbound. It was like she wasn’t a pony. She moved through the air like she was in complete control of gravity. For her final maneuver she first flew vertically, making fast revolutions that quickly created a sideways tornado. She pulled off of it, and headed in the direction the tornado was going, making another tornado while staying horizontal this time. The two tornadoes met, causing a great amount of wind to scatter across the entire area. With that she zoomed downward, and with a few quick flaps gently landed on the ground. I was speechless for a few moments, but then I started clapping my hooves and whooping. “That was amazing, Rainbow Dash!” “Thank you, thank you.” She said with a proud smile on her face, quickly bowing her head before saying, “Tell me more.” I prattled on about every aspect of her maneuvers, and she just soaked in my praise. After a while, though, she put her hoof to my mouth to silence me. “Well, I’m glad I was able cheer you up, kid. But I have to be somewhere so I’ll catch you around.” With that she grabbed her stuff and without another word she was gone as quickly as she had come in. For a while I just stared at her until I couldn’t see her anymore. I let out a happy squeal. “That was so awesome!” I cried out, before I started running home. When I got there I saw my grandmare sitting at the table, a sad, worried look on her face. She looked a little better when she saw me. I spent the next ten minutes telling her about my meeting with Rainbow Dash. I just couldn’t stop thinking about her. I didn’t even know a pegasus was capable of such things. The next day after I got home from school Grandmare had a present for me. She brought me behind the house, and I saw what would someday become one of my most precious possessions. It was a scooter, with red handlebars and wheels, and a blue board. “Scootaloo, I’m sorry I can’t do more for you, but I thought that if you can’t fly, the least I can do is give you an easier way of getting around.” As I looked at it I felt lost for words. I felt so grateful, but I also felt guilty. For a while I had been wanting a scooter, and I know the one I saw was quite expensive. Definitely nowhere close when it came to the cost of the surgery, but I know that Grandmare was struggling with money. She must have sold some of her stuff to get it for me. I turned to her , and she probably read what was on my face. “Don’t worry, my little pumpkin.” She said, holding me close. “As long as it can put a smile on your face, the cost is well worth it.” I walked up to it, grabbing the helmet and goggles hanging off of it and put them on. I got on, and pushed off with my hoof. I felt the air curving around me. The harder I kicked off, the more I could feel it. Part of me imagined I was Rainbow Dash, flying through the air like I owned the sky. I drove around for a few minutes before coming back to her, putting my hoof out to stop myself. Carefully putting it on its side I run up to her and hugged her, tears streaming down my eyes. I thanked her over and over, and she just gently patted my back. “I love it, Grandmare!” “I’m glad.” She responded. From that day me and my scooter were nearly inseparable. I rode it to school, around town, around the outside of my house. However…the day came when I began to hate my scooter. I hated everything about it. The only reason Grandmare had bought it for me was because I was disabled. And when I thought of that it was like riding a constant reminder of being crippled. I wasn’t angry at Grandmare, though. She had done it to try to cheer me up, but even my gratefulness to her for selling her own possessions to get it for me was outweighed by my anger. After crashing one day I lost my temper. I didn’t want this stupid scooter anymore. I went to a cliff by the river, fully intending to just chuck the thing in there. All of a sudden I heard above me, “Look out below!” I turned up toward the voice, and only just ducked out of the way to avoid being rammed into. The pony crashed into the river, and I looked anxiously to see if they were okay. Suddenly she came rushing out of the water, spinning herself around to get rid of the water covering her coat. “Hey!” I cried out as now I was wet, but then I saw who it was. “Rainbow Dash!” I cried out excitedly, not even caring she had got me soaked. “Hmmm?” She looked down at me. “Oh, it’s you. The filly from the other day. What’s up, kid?” She remembered me! Just hearing that made me feel better. “Not much! Are you okay?” “Yeah, I was practicing a trick and I lost control. It’s proving more complicated than I imagined.” “What kind of trick?” “It’s called the Sonic Rainboom.” “Whoa…” I said. I didn’t know what that was, but it sure sounded cool, especially if it was Rainbow Dash attempting it. “So whatcha got there, kid?” Right behind me was my scooter. I felt sick to my stomach. The Rainbow Dash was talking to me, and I was terrified she would think I was beyond lame if she knew I couldn’t fly. Why else would I be riding a scooter around as a pegasus unless I couldn’t fly? “It’s nothing.” I said quickly, trying to block her view of it with my body. My heart jumped when she simply did a quick maneuver to get behind me. “You got a scooter, huh?” She saw it! I felt tears coming to my eyes. She was going to hate me now! I couldn’t even explain myself. I would feel even more embarrassed to tell her that it wasn’t just because I hadn’t learned to fly yet, but because I couldn’t no matter how long I waited. “Now that’s cool!” “Huh?” I asked in disbelief. “I bet you can pull off some mad sweet moves with that thing. You’re a pony with style.” She did a quick pose, crossing her hooves. I thought I was going to faint. Not only didn’t she think my scooter was lame, she thought it made me even better. “So what tricks can you do? Show me what the…” She stopped, a confused look on her face. “So what’s your name, kid?” Ready to faint, round two! Rainbow Dash, the coolest pony and best flier in Equestria, wanted to know MY name. “I-I-I’m S-s-scootaloo.” I stuttered. “Heh!” She said smugly. “The coolest ponies always have the coolest names, don’t you think?” “Y-yeah.” Pinch me! I had to be dreaming. It was like someone let the air out of the balloon holding all my fears. But it certainly filled right back up again with what she said next. “So come on, Scootaloo. Show me what you can do.” I had only ridden my scooter around. I had never attempted to do any tricks with it. But I couldn’t back down. Rainbow Dash was showing interest in me, and I couldn’t bear to let her down. Looking around I said, “Um, this isn’t really a good spot. It’s all open around here.” “Yeah, you got a good point. Follow me.” With that she flew away, and I did my best to keep pace with her. We come upon some woods. Rainbow showed me another trick, as she swiftly dodged her way between trees before coming back to me. She was a natural athlete. She just couldn’t help herself. If she could see the potential for a trick it was like she just HAD to do it, to prove to herself that she could. I tried the same thing she did. Thankfully I didn’t crash, but I was nowhere near as fast or precise as her. When I came to the end of the set of trees I turned back to wave at her, then I turned back and my heart sunk in my chest as I saw I was coming up upon a hill. I couldn’t stop in time. The air rushed past me as the incline increased my speed. To make matters worse the hill ended in a ramp. I screamed in fear as I went flying into the air. I looked down, and saw I was headed straight into a ravine filled with rocks. Tears came down my eyes. Not only was I going to crash, I was going to totally let down Rainbow Dash. I guess I really AM a washout. As I started coming down, it was like something…awoke in me. My fear left me, a determined look set upon my face. Everything else faded away. I could see a path just past that ravine. If I could only get a little more acceleration I knew I could make it. Pulling on the handles of my scooter I straightened it out so it wasn’t pointing so far downward, and then…those things that I thought were so useless actually came in handy. I don’t know what made me do it, but I opened my wings, revving them like there was no tomorrow. It was very close, but I managed to clear the gap, landing on solid ground. Thoughts of victory were quickly cut short as I saw a giant rock coming up in my path. Once more I didn’t have to think about what to do. It was like an instinct. I pushed all my weight down as far as I could, before jumping up, the extra weight adding height to my jump. As I cleared that I nearly landed in a swamp, and I found that only using one wing helped me steer in the direction I wanted to go. I hit another smaller hill at an angle, and I went flying, nearly falling into another swamp. It was set like a small O-shape, and I zoomed around and around horizontally for a few rotations before getting out, flying towards a tree branch. I pushed my weight down again to get lower, grabbing the branch. As my momentum carried my body up my scooter went flying into the air. Not even thinking, after a few revolutions I let go at just the right time, flying toward my scooter. I grabbed it and set myself back into an upright position. I noticed the hill I had fell down earlier, and I aimed myself at it so I wouldn’t just crash to the ground, the curve of it helping to absorb most of the impact. As I went up the hill, right near the top, when the moment was perfect, I once again put my weight down, jumping and doing a flip before putting my hoof down to stop myself. My breathing was heavy from the experience. It was terrifying! It was scary! It was- “AWESOME!” Said Rainbow Dash, pumping her hooves. “Oh yeah! Now THAT’S what I’m talking about.” I laughed nervously as I took my helmet off. “Y-yeah!” I said, my heart still racing. “J-just as planned.” “So how was it? Did you feel it? That need for speed? The wind rushing through your mane? That indescribable feeling of excitement?” “Oh yeah…definitely.” I forced a smile. My hooves were trembling like crazy, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. “Yeah, I can see it. You’re shaking with excitement. Same with me. It’s why I just can’t stop.” Rainbow Dash patted my head. “You’re a cool little filly, Scootaloo.” I felt ecstatic beyond words to hear such a thing from a pony like Rainbow Dash, but I started crying regardless. “What’s wrong, Scootaloo?” I looked up at her with sad eyes and said guiltily, “A ‘cool little filly’ doesn’t throw away a special gift their grandmare bought them.” “What do you mean?” I felt more tears coming down my eyes. “Rainbow Dash…I’m not cool at all. I’m lame. I…I…” I turned away, unable to meet her eyes any more. I didn’t want to see the look of disappointment or disgust she was going to wear when I told her. “I have stunted wing.” I said in a small voice. “My grandmare found me near the Everfree forest as a baby, and I was seriously injured. She said both my wings were broken. I didn’t think it mattered because they healed up, but it did. We don’t have the money for the surgery so I’m…I’m probably never going to be able to fly and be cool like you.” I just broke down crying now. I had told her when I didn’t have to, and now she would probably not want anything to do with me. I heard Rainbow Dash moving, and I thought she was about to leave. It wasn’t a big surprise. She had better things to do than be with someone uncool who would drag her reputation down. However she didn’t fly away. She sat next to me, putting her wing around me. “Listen, Scootaloo.” She said gently. “You shouldn’t be ashamed of things you have no control over. It would be the same thing as if you were born with only one wing. It’s not like you wanted to be born with one wing. It’s not your fault. “I don’t think you’re lame at all. You pulled off some awesome moves on your scooter.” “I’ve never even done anything like that before. It was all luck.” “So what does that matter? You still pulled off some cool moves and managed not to crash. For your first time doing that it’s pretty awesome. Most fillies your age would probably have crashed a few times during that. And, even if your wings aren’t as powerful as mine, you still found your own way of making them work for you. When you were coming down from that first jump and for the rest of your ride you used your wings to increase your speed and to help you make turns. “You’re going to be amazing, Scootaloo. I can just tell. You just have to keep practicing so you can do those moves all the time. After all, you can’t always count on accidents.” I felt myself settling down. “Thank you, Rainbow Dash.” I said, gratitude shining on my face. “No problem, my little fan.” Although I felt better I still felt some guilt. “When my grandmare heard that I had stunted wing she went out and bought me that scooter. I loved it at first, but then I just felt like it was a reminder of how I was disabled. Right before you showed up I…I was thinking of just throwing it in the river.” “You’re not disabled unless you think you’re disabled! And stunted wing isn’t always a big deal. After all, I had it when I was about your age.” “You DID?” I asked in shock. “Yeah. It’s possible for stunted wing to correct itself, without any surgery, as the pony grows, and that’s what happened with me. It could happen to you, too. So don’t give up, Scootaloo. Even if you can’t fly, you already have your own awesome way of getting around. You should keep your scooter and ride it with pride. YOU have nothing to be ashamed of, because YOU didn’t do anything wrong. Understand?” I nodded. “Yeah. Thank you.” “No problem. It’s what I do. I fly the skies, and help out others. It’s all part of the awesome Rainbow Dash schedule.” “Umm…” Came a quiet voice behind them. Rainbow Dash turned around, and I saw a yellow pegasus half hidden by a tree. “Hey, Fluttershy. What’s up?” “No, um…you two are talking. I’ll just…come back later.” She started backing up. “Don’t say that. What’s wrong?” “Oh, um…Twilight was looking for you. She said the new Daring Do book come out and she wanted you to have the first copy.” “YES!” Rainbow Dash cried out, flying and pumping her hooves. “I gotta go, Scootaloo. I’ll catch you later.” With that her and Fluttershy flew off. “Don’t forget what I told you, okay? Keep practicing and show me some new moves the next time I see you. I’ll be waiting for them.” I smiled after her as she left. She was, without a doubt, the best pony in all of Ponyville. NO! In Equestria! I picked up my scooter and hugged it, apologizing to it for nearly throwing it away like it could actually hear me, and headed for home. *** As Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy flew to the library Fluttershy said, “You never told me you had stunted wing as a filly.” She let out a sigh. “Oh, even with a disability you were still always a much better flier than me. “Of course I didn’t tell you. I never had it.” Rainbow Dash replied simply. “WHAT?” Fluttershy said angrily, grabbing Rainbow Dash’s hoof and yanking it hard, pulling her to a stop in the air. Rainbow Dash looked at her questioningly. “What is it, Fluttershy? I have to get to the library.” “Rainbow Dash! I cannot believe you! You told a flat-out lie to a child and made her believe she’d be fine when she wouldn’t. That’s the most horrible thing you’ve ever done!” When Fluttershy spoke that plainly you knew she was angry. Rainbow Dash stopped trying to pull away, and looked Fluttershy in the eye. “It was more of a half-lie. It’s true that I never had stunted wing, but it IS true that it will sometimes correct itself as the pony grows older. She looks up to me a lot. I can already tell that just from meeting her twice. And if she thought that I had it and got over it, then she’ll believe that she can get over it too. I didn’t lie to her to be cruel. I just didn’t want her to give up hope, that’s all. The worst thing a pony of any age can do is give up.” The look of anger on Fluttershy’s face left, replaced with her usual awkwardness. “Oh, I’m sorry, Rainbow Dash. That was just terrible of me to accuse you without knowing everything.” Rainbow Dash smiled. “No prob. Way to speak up for your beliefs, Fluttershy!” Fluttershy just blushed and didn’t respond as she released Rainbow’s hoof and continued flying, Rainbow Dash quickly catching up and keeping pace with her friend. *** When I got to my house I put my scooter away in my room, just thinking about how great the day was. Suddenly my grandmare was in my doorway. “Hey there, Scootaloo. Weren’t you ever going to come in and say hello?” I turned to her, and before I knew it I was crying my eyes out. She came and sat down next to me. I told her how sorry I was for almost throwing away my scooter. She told me it was alright, that if my scooter wasn’t making me happy anymore I didn’t have to keep it, but I kept apologizing regardless. I knew how hard it had been to get me it. “Why don’t you come help me bake some cookies?” She said warmly. Still sniffing I nodded my head. I figured that helping her out with something was the best way to repay her for her kindness. By the time they were all done and cooling I felt better. She sat me down and poured me some milk, and as I bit into the warm chocolate chip cookies that same warmness seemed to enter my belly. I ate until my belly was bulging, and she didn’t once try to tell me I was eating too much, or it would spoil my appetite. That was one of the things I loved best about her. She was just so loving. She hardly ever got mad, and when she did it was always for a good reason. “Thanks, Grandmare.” I said, giving her a hug. “I love you so much!” She returned my hug, telling me she loved me too. When we broke apart I said, “Guess what!” “What?” “I ran into Rainbow Dash again today.” “Oh?” “Yeah!” So I told her all about my encounter with Rainbow, about how I got to do some cool stunts on my scooter, and how I didn’t have to feel ashamed of my dis-…no, I wouldn’t call it a disability. Like Rainbow Dash said, I’m only disabled if I felt disabled. I could still fly. Maybe not with my wings alone, but with my trusty scooter I could be just as awesome as her one day. She took it all in. I’m sure I must have prattled on and on, but she just listened without interrupting until I was done. She was especially interested to hear that it was possible for my wings to still grow in right without an expensive surgery. Now that Rainbow Dash had taken an interest in me, I was determined not to let her down. Every day I practiced on my scooter, trying to do something that would impress her. More often than not I fell off and crashed. Sometimes I felt like giving up again. It felt so hopeless at times. Rainbow Dash was so far above me I didn’t even know if it was possible for me to catch up. I had to remind myself that not even Rainbow Dash was perfect. The only reason I even saw her again was because SHE messed up a trick she was working on. So I persisted, telling myself that my injuries were just proof that I was giving it my all, and one day I finally managed a trick that I had been practicing for a week. I felt so proud of myself. I excitedly grabbed my grandmare, showing off my new move. I was so glad that I didn’t mess it up for my lone audience member. She clapped and whooped for a few seconds before she stopped, a small look of pain on her face. “Are you okay?” “Yeah. Just old.” She let out a weak laugh. “The body ain’t what it used to be. But that was amazing, Scootaloo. I think this calls for a special reward back at the house.” “I don’t need a reward.” I said bashfully. “But I’ve been saving this for you. It’s the perfect time.” I followed her back to the house. She had me sit down in a chair and close my eyes. I heard her leave the room, then she came back a minute later. I felt her put something in my hooves. She told me to open my eyes. When I did I stared at the piece of paper on my hooves. It was a ticket for…,”The Best Young Flier competition?” It was dated for a month from now. She nodded. “It’s a competition between some of the best young adult pegasi around.” I was in two minds. On the one hoof I felt so grateful she had gone out of her way to do something nice for me. On the other hoof, I didn’t know if I wanted to go with my flightless self. Seeing all those amazing ponies flying around, knowing that I couldn’t…I didn’t think I’d like it. I decided to be honest. She had told me that if my scooter stopped making me happy I didn’t have to keep it anymore, so this wasn’t too different. “I don’t want to go, Grandmare.” And I explained my reason why. She smiled at me. “Well, that’s okay. You know, I heard from a few ponies that Rainbow Dash is entering the competition.” My ears instantly perked up at the mention of her name. “She is?” “Yeah. But…if you’re not interested…” She took the ticked back. “No!” I cried out in a panic, snatching it out of her hooves and holding it close to me. “I changed my mind. I want to go!” Grandmare just laughed. Time seemed to pass by so slowly. I couldn’t wait to see Rainbow Dash pull out all the stops, and totally OWN the competition. A week later, I got a pleasant surprise. My friends Sweetie Belle and Applebloom said their sisters had invited them to watch the meteor shower later on that night, and asked if I wanted to go too. I got my grandmare’s permission to go out. When it was nighttime, when I’d usually be asleep, I felt too excited to sleep. I found my friends, and I saw a big blanket was set up, with snacks and punch. That was where I met my friends sisters, Rarity and Applejack, as well as their sisters friends, Fluttershy, Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Spike and… “Rainbow Dash?” I said, my mouth hanging open. “Oh, hey. What’s up, kid?” I immediately turned to my friends. “Your sisters are friends with Rainbow Dash, and you never told me?” “We didn’t know that you even knew her.” Said Sweetie Belle. “Yeah.” Said Applebloom. “How was we supposed to know? We don’t know her all that well ourselves.” I decided to let it go. I didn’t want to start a fight with them. We all ate and drank and I got to know all of them a little better. Twilight was a smart pony who lived in a library, Applejack worked hard on her farm and considered her family and friends to be the most important to her, Pinkie Pie was a rambunctious ball of energy who loved throwing parties and making ponies happy, Rarity was a fashion designer looking to be recognized everywhere, Fluttershy was a quiet and, well, shy pony who liked caring for animals, Spike was Twilight’s assistant and a pretty darn good cookie maker, and of course Rainbow Dash was just the most amazing flier ever. The meteor shower was really incredible. It was something you sure didn’t see too often. According to Twilight it only happened once every one hundred years. Two weeks after that, I ran into Rainbow Dash again much like before, only this time she didn’t come so close to hitting me as she hit the ground. “Rainbow Dash!” I cried out as she picked herself up. She shook off the dust on her, then said distractedly, “Hey, Scootaloo.” “I’m so glad to see you! Just like you said I’ve been practicing since the last time we met, and I’ve got some moves to show you.” I said, my voice full of pride. “Yeah, that’s nice.” She said indifferently. “Don’t care. Got better things to do.” Without another word she jumped into the air and started flying away. “B-b-but…but I practiced so hard!” I didn’t mean to start sobbing, but her dismissive response of telling me she didn’t care about all my hard work really hurt my feelings. She stopped in mid-air and came flying down in front of me. She pointed her hoof at me, saying angrily, “LISTEN SCOOTALOO!” I cowered, backing up a step. Her body tensed and she gave me a funny look. She closed her eyes, took a few deep breaths, then took a step forward and put her hoof on my neck. This time, much gentler, she said, “Listen, Scootaloo. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you but I really don’t have time to watch your tricks. The competition is only a few days away, and I still haven’t perfected my signature move. “The Best Young Fliers competition has some of the best pegasi in all of Equestria. Princess Celestia herself is one of the judges, and tons of pegasi are going to be watching. I’m…” She let out a sigh. “If I can’t get this move right by competition day my whole act is going to fall flat and I’m going to look pathetic. I just feel really frustrated. I didn’t mean to take it out on you.” That made me feel a little better. “You know, my grandmare bought me a ticket to the show. At first I didn’t want to go.” I fluttered my wings a bit. “Can’t fly, you know. But when I heard you were going to enter I really wanted to see you. Is it that, um, booming sonic rain thing?” “The sonic rainboom.” She corrected. “And yes it is. It was how I got my cutie mark in the first place. As a filly I managed to fly so fast during a race I created a sonic boom and rainbow at the same time. From time to time I tried to do it again, but I never could. When I heard about this contest, I knew that THAT was what I wanted to show off. I figured that with a deadline coming up it would give me the drive I needed to pull it off again, but so far no luck. No one else has ever managed to pull it off, and I know that if I could just do it again that I would be the winner for sure.” She let out another sigh, then she said to me, “So you’re going to come too, huh? I think that would be wonderful. Are you going to cheer me on?” “Of course. I’ll try to scream the loudest for you.” She finally let out a little laugh and smiled. “That’s good. I could sure use some support from my number one fan.” I blushed. I felt like it went throughout my entire body. Number one fan. She had called me her number one fan! After that I returned home in a daze. I was so excited the night before the contest that I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t know what a sonic rainboom would look like, but if it was RAINBOW DASH doing it, I know it would look amazing. My grandmare rented a Twinkling Balloon for me since I couldn’t fly, and it was only then that she told me I would be going alone. I was surprised. I thought she would be coming to watch the show too but, as she pointed out, she was an earth pony, and thus couldn’t walk on clouds. She had known that and bought me the ticket anyway. She said she knew I’d be fine. When the balloon arrived I got off, following the line of pegasi. I handed in my ticked when it was my turn, and I was directed to a cloud to sit on, my heart beating quickly with excitement in my chest. I couldn’t wait to see the sonic rainboom. I was sure Rainbow Dash had it down pat by now. I watched pegasi come out, one after another, each showing off pretty good moves. However, I had faith in my Rainbow Dash. After a while, though, my enthusiasm waned a bit. Where WAS she? According to the program we had been given, she was supposed to have been the second one to come out. However, thirteen ponies had already came out and shown off their moves. I wondered if something had happened to her. What if she had gotten sick? What if she had gotten hurt and couldn’t be in the competition? Just as I was starting to get scared, out came Rainbow Dash and…Ra…ri…ty? I couldn’t believe my eyes. Rarity had wings! Not regular pegasus wings. They looked like butterfly wings. What was Rarity doing in this competition? She wasn’t even a pegasus! I don’t care if she had wings now. She was a unicorn. How dare she try to show Rainbow Dash up? I was so busy being angry at Rarity and hoping she’d fail all her tricks that I nearly missed Rainbow’s performance. I saw her weaving in between clouds, before going to back to glaring at Rarity. Then I saw her spinning clouds, which looked so awesome, before Rarity blocked my view again, and I had to resist the urge to yell out “Boo!” After all, I didn’t want Rainbow Dash to think I was criticizing HER. Rainbow Dash was definitely on top. I saw both Rainbow Dash and Rarity heading up high in the sky. Rarity stopped, but Rainbow kept going. I heard Rarity bragging, wanting everyone to look upon her, and I felt so angry I hoped with all my heart that she’d lose those fake-looking wings and just fall flat on her face. The next thing I knew Rarity’s wings…disintegrated. And then she was plummeting toward the ground below. I had changed my mind now. I hadn’t REALLY wanted her to fall. I was just upset. “RAINBOW DASH!” I yelled. “HELP!” It was either my screaming or Rarity’s that got her attention. She turned around, racing toward her friend as the Wonderbolts flew down to save her themselves, but Rarity was flailing around so much she knocked out all of them on accident. Now there were four of them all headed to the ground. They were all going to be hurt and possibly die. If there was anybody, any pony, who could possibly get them all out of this alright, she was zooming down toward them right now. But could even Rainbow Dash save four ponies at once? I felt tears coming down my eyes. “Please, Rainbow Dash!” I said quietly. “You have to save them.” I saw something strange happening around Rainbow Dash. The air in front of her was warping, and it became more pronounced the faster she flew. Was this it? That sonic rainboom she had been talking about? But what if she couldn’t do it? What if she failed? And then I remembered something. I had told Rainbow Dash I would cheer the loudest for her. She had said she might need the encouragement of me, her number one fan. That’s right! I didn’t have time to be scared or feel sorry. This was RAINBOW DASH! She WOULD save them. Putting my hooves around my mouth I yelled out as loud as I could, “GO, RAINBOW DASH! YOU CAN DO IT! I BELIEVE IN YOU!” Rainbow Dash suddenly vanished with a rainbow colored explosion. A colossal wave of air pushed my mane back and nearly knocked me off the cloud I was sitting on. I looked down to see only what looked like an expanding rainbow heading to the ground so fast my eyes couldn’t keep up with it all. The three Wonderbolts and Rarity vanished too just before they hit the ground, and now suddenly the rainbow was heading upwards, and as it did I saw Rainbow Dash, awesomeness ponified, was what was leading the rainbow, holding Rarity with the three Wonderbolts on her back. So THAT was a sonic rainboom. I screamed myself hoarse cheering for her. And , as I knew all along, she was crowned the champion of the Best Young Flier competition. Happy tears raced down my eyes. This was truly one of the greatest days of my life. I knew now after seeing that that NOPONY would ever be able to match Rainbow Dash in coolness. The day after the competition I combed all of Ponyville looking around for her, so I could congratulate her personally. I finally found her in the library, reading with Twilight. “Hi, Rainbow Dash. Hi, Twilight.” “Oh. Hi, Scootaloo.” Said Twilight. “Have you come for a book, or…something else?” She said with a laugh as she looked at Rainbow Dash. “Rainbow Dash!” I said. “What’s up, kid?” Rainbow asked distractedly. “I just wanted to tell you how amazing you were at the competition. The way you swerved around the clouds, and spun them around, and how you finally pulled off the sonic rainboom!” “Well, thanks, Scootaloo.” She said, not having her usual confidence when I praised her. “Listen, I was so nervous before the competition that I couldn’t even concentrate on reading. I’m hoof deep in the newest epic of Daring Do, so do you think you can give me a few more days until I see your moves? I don’t think I’m going to be able to put this book down. It’s the best book yet.” “Oh. Okay.” I said. I was a little disappointed, but she had been very polite about it, so I couldn’t get too upset. Besides, I remember the way she had reacted when I tried to approach her before when she wasn’t in the mood. If she was going to evaluate my moves, I wanted her to give me her full attention and honest opinion. A week went by. I decided that since I had extra time that I should get some extra practice in. I had seemed to pick up Rainbow’s habit of seeing possible tricks everywhere I went, and most of the time I went for them. Oftentimes I pulled it off, but I also crashed quite a bit too. I was swerving around other ponies, came upon a low branch and jumped it, landing back on my scooter at just the right time, before coming upon an overturned cart. No backing down! With a small hop I used the cart as a ramp, flying up into the air with a whoop. “Nice moves, kid.” Came a voice right next to me. I turned and saw Rainbow Dash, flying upside down with a drink on her belly, hooves behind her head like she was trying to nap in mid-air, and I felt my heart shine with pride. “Nice moves? Rainbow Dash thinks I have-” She had taken me so by surprise that I forgot about my landing, and I crashed into a bale of hay. “…nice moves.” I finished as I pulled myself out, just avoiding a cow trying to eat my tail. I was so excited I couldn’t stop gushing at the clubhouse later. “Rainbow Dash said I have nice moves!” “She really said that?” Asked Sweetie Belle. “Yeah!” “That’s great, Scootaloo.” Said Applebloom. “I know! Isn’t it? It’s like she practically told me she wanted to take me under her wing, teach me everything she knows and be like my big sister!” Applebloom looked at me uncertainly. “Well, I don’t know about all that.” “Hey, it could happen. Right? I just wish I had more chances to spend more time with her. We keep running into each other by accident. I mean, you guys are so lucky. YOUR sisters are friends with Rainbow Dash, so you have a much better chance of seeing her than I do.” “Hey!” Applebloom said. “I got it!” Applebloom proceeded to tell me she and her sister Applejack were going camping for the weekend, and she’d see if she could get Rainbow Dash to come along so I could come too. Sweetie Belle had to do some convincing to get Rarity to come, but after that the sisterhood campout was on! Of course, me and Rainbow Dash weren’t sisters…yet! I thought that if I could show her how cool I was she’d want to spend more time with me. In the end, most of it was a disaster. The first day was good, but at night Rainbow Dash started telling spooky stories. I did my best to play it off like they didn’t get to me. I didn’t want her to think I was a coward. Even though I got to sleep in the same tent as Rainbow Dash, I was still afraid and wound up to actually fall asleep. When I finally passed out I had a nightmare of the Olden Pony coming after me. I scootered and walked around half-asleep the rest of the next day as we found a spot to rest for the night. More spooky stories. I was so terrified that I couldn’t even think of trying to sleep. I did my best to try to get everyone else to stay up too, but eventually everyone else was out, leaving me all alone. And soon enough I fell asleep too, too tired to stay up. This time I dreamt of a headless horse coming after me, just like the story. Just when it looked like it was about to attack me, it suddenly disappeared, and in its place: Princess…Luna? She told me that as the princess of the night it was her duty to enter the dreams of ponies and help them sleep soundly. Then she told me that what I was most afraid of would still be around when I awoke. I feebly said, “The headless horse?” But she knew better. She knew it wasn’t really what was most frightening to me. I rubbed my hoof. “Well, I’m scared Rainbow Dash won’t like me if she finds out that I’m not as tough as I make myself out to be.” “Everyone has fears, Scootaloo.” She said firmly, but kindly. “But they must be faced head-on. If you avoid your problems the nightmares will only continue. Face your fears!” She said as she began to fly away. I suddenly found myself back in the cave, and I saw it had just been another nightmare. I decided to get up and make sure the headless horse wasn’t around. I was near the mouth of the cave, when I suddenly heard a strange sound, a high pitched cry. I was certain I was hearing the whinny of the headless horse! I jumped, grabbing my scooter and determined to get away from her. After nearly crashing several times I fell off the edge of the path, just barely grabbing onto a tree branch as my scooter went tumbling down below into the water. I called out for help but no one came. To make matters worse, the branch was breaking. I yelled out louder, hoping for anyone, except the headless horse, would come to my rescue. Then it suddenly broke. The water wasn’t all that deep, but it was fast moving, and I didn’t have the strength to fight it. I came upon a waterfall, but just after I fell over it I felt myself being lifted into the air, before I was set down in a clearing. Rainbow Dash looked furious. “What were you doing out here in the middle of the night!” She snapped. I felt tears come to my eyes. They stopped when I suddenly saw Princess Luna reflected on the moon, telling me it was time to face my real fears. I knew it was time to come clean…but I didn’t want to. “I’m so, so sorry, Rainbow Dash! All I wanted was for us to be able to spend some more time together so you’d wanna hang out with me, teach me everything you know and become like my big sister!” A look of shock crossed her face. “But then you started telling all those spooky stories. I thought I heard the whinny of the headless horse so I ran out here by myself. And you know the rest. “I guess I’m just not brave or cool.” I said dejectedly as I took off my helmet. A warm smile crossed her face. “Look, I’m gonna tell you something, but if you ever tell anypony else…I’m gonna deny it. The first time I heard those stories…” She looked around to make sure no one was listening. “…I was scared too.” “What?” I asked in surprise. “You…you were?” “Yeah.” With typical Rainbow Dash confidence she continued, “I got over it pretty quick because I realized that even if there WERE such a thing as a headless horse, I could TOTALLY take it on.” Her face had that warm look again. “So…you’re looking for somepony to take you under their wing, huh?” “MMm-hmm.” I nodded hopefully. “Hmmm…yeah. I might be up for something like that.” She put her wing around me, pulling me right next to her. “Just as long as you don’t go falling into any more rivers in the middle of the night.” She said with a laugh. “It’s a deal.” I said, laughing along with her as we snuggled. It was quiet for a time. I was just glad to have Rainbow Dash by my side, willing to teach me to be an amazing flier like she was. Rainbow Dash was the one to break the silence. “Listen Scootaloo.” She started. “I want to tell you something.” “What is it?” “We’ve only met a couple of times now, but I can see you hold me up as your role model.” “Is that okay?” I asked, wondering if she was changing her mind. “Yesssss…” The way she drifted off made me unsure. “Scootaloo, I think you could be a great flier one day, maybe even as good as me.” Hearing praise like made my heart swell up with joy. “Right now your wings are too weak to get you off the ground, and your stunted wing could get in the way of that.” “Yeah…” I responded. “However, even if you get all better and you follow along in my hoofsteps that’s all you’ll ever be seen as. People will just see you as a second Rainbow Dash.” “That would be the COOLEST!” I cried out. Rainbow Dash broke out laughing. “Oh, gosh. I forgot I was already talking to a little Rainbow Dash. What I mean is that even if you one day pull off a sonic rainboom, no one is going to really remember you for it. Oh, sure, they may be really impressed that a second pegasus pulled it off, but most likely the first thing they’d do is dismiss you entirely by commenting how somepony else could pull off the same move as Rainbow Dash, because all you’d be doing is copying something I created…on accident, mind you, but still my creation, and now I can do it all the time. Um, yeah, anyway…getting off topic. Anyway, since you have so much potential, your legend shouldn’t simply be to stand in my shadow. You should create your own legend, and stand with me side-by-side. Nothing would make me happier.” “What do you mean?” She let go of me, flying away for a few seconds. When she returned she had my scooter with her. “Oh!” I cried out. I thought it was gone. “At first I thought you were on this because it was so dark, but when you weren’t there I knew you had to be close by.” She set it down, then sat next to me again. She pointed at it and said, “Now…that’s what I mean.” “Huh?” I asked, not understanding. “I’m SAYING that that could be your legend. Even if your first time doing moves was all an accident, you still felt something deep inside of you awaken, that made you focus even though you were afraid, and that was what allowed you to pull it all off without crashing once. Like I said when I first saw it, you found a way to make your wings work for you even if you can’t fly yet. The reason we all have different cutie marks is that we each have our own destinies and our own skills. Maybe you’re destined to be the world’s greatest scooterist.” I didn’t like the way this conversation was going. I felt a tear coming down my eye. “Does this mean you’re not going to teach me how to fly?” “When did I ever say that? You should listen more to what I’m saying. There’s no reason for you not to fly if you have the skill, but I’m saying it might not be the destiny you’re headed towards. Being able to fly alone doesn’t make one a great athlete. You don’t have to look any further than Fluttershy to know that. Also, look at Applejack. She’s an earth pony, but she competes in rodeos and ever gets some first place medals. But unless you can someday pull off something even more powerful than a sonic rainboom, then you’re never going to be remembered for flying, because my legend will always be in your way. You may do your best, and pull off some truly spectacular moves, but somepony is ALWAYS going to say, “Well, it wasn’t as amazing as a sonic rainboom.” And that’s why I’m telling you to find your own unique way to shine. I saw that you’ve improved a lot since the first time you rode your scooter for the sake of pulling off moves. You’re more confident, and now you can do your techniques on purpose, rather than by accident. “Teaching you to fly will only help your scootering ability, because if your wings become stronger you can flap them harder, and of course that means a lot more speed. And any disciple of Rainbow Dash loves lots of speed!” “Yeah!” I cried out. It all made a lot of sense to me. The more I improved my flying, the better I could ride my scooter. And the more I improved at my scooter, the better I could become at flying. It was a win-win situation no matter how I got around. And…it seemed kind of scary to think of trying to outdo Rainbow Dash. She was the best flier in all of Equestria. I hadn’t even gotten myself off the ground yet. However, like she told me, I could still ride my scooter and learn lots of cool moves. And maybe someday Scootaloo would be a name as well-known as Rainbow Dash. I was a tiny bit disappointed that I may never be the great flier she was, but I could still become great in my own way. Well, with the world’s greatest flier as my trainer, how could I possibly go wrong? In the morning we finally reached the peak of the falls. Sweetie Belle called sister teams, starting a race to the top of the falls. I felt so proud, now that I finally had a sister to race with. With her usual confidence Rainbow Dash said, “They think THEY can beat the two of US?” She unfurled her impressive wings. I did too, fluttering them. Rainbow Dash picked me up, balancing me on one hoof as we flew towards the falls together. It was a truly amazing feeling. It was like I was actually flying! And I didn’t feel afraid at all, because I knew Rainbow Dash wouldn’t let me fall. In the end we got there first, as we had a definite advantage over the running ponies. And so ended one of the best weekends ever. She dropped me off at my home, telling me she was going to be busy on weather duty for the next week or so because of the fast approaching winter. But after that we could begin my flying lessons. I couldn’t wait. When my grandmare asked me how it went, I exploded into conversation. I was so happy I couldn’t think to lower my voice. The most amazing pony in the world wanted to be MY big sister, and teach me how to fly. How could things get any better? I decided to ask my grandmare to take me to the doctor to have my wings checked again before we began my training. I felt really hopeful that I was almost cured. I unfurled my wings with pride, letting them be measured and x-rayed. I was talking with my grandmare leisurely when the doctor came back, putting my x-ray up on the board. “So how is it, doc? Am I going to be flying very soon?” He continued studying the chart, facing away from me, and didn’t respond. When he finally turned around I felt some of my joy leave me as he wasn’t smiling. “Have you been using your wings a lot recently?” He asked. “Yeah. I can’t fly yet, but I use them to help me with my scooter.” “I see…” He was silent for a little while, but then he finally said, “I’m sorry, but according to your chart your stunted wing has gotten worse, not better.” “WHAT?” I said, feeling all the happiness in me leave. “B-but…b-b-but…” “It seems that using your wings so excessively has exacerbated your condition. I don’t like to say this, but your time is running out. You only have so long before your natural growth spurt, when a normal pegasus’ wings would finish their growth cycle. If you can’t find the money to have the surgery done by then, then soon after that you will completely lose the use of your wings even for simple tasks.” It was like being hit in the stomach and being thrown into a freezing cold lake. My body contracted so hard I wound up in a ball. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My stomach felt like it had rocks in it. Tremors racked my body as I started sobbing. So this was it. I was forever going to be an earthbound pony. It was the end of all my hopes and dreams. I had believed so hard that I could be just like Rainbow Dash. It was the only thing that had kept me going throughout everything. Now I wouldn’t be able to use my wings even to help me with my riding, the one thing I thought would let me catch up to her. Now even that hope was gone. I would never be able to stand at her side like she wanted. Just like the last time I had heard horrible news at the doctor, I felt like I couldn’t just stay in one place. I uncurled myself, running out of the hospital. I didn’t know where I was going to go, but I knew I couldn’t ever show my face in front of Rainbow Dash again. It would just hurt too much. When I left the doctor’s office I heard a voice above me say, “Gotcha.” I didn’t even have time to think as I felt someone grab me and throw me up into the air. I landed on something hard, and the next thing I knew the ground was drifting away below me. “Rain…bow…Dash...” I said slowly. Our first few meetings had been purely accidental, but even this seemed like she had way too good timing, getting me right after I had left. “You got some bad news, huh?” She asked somberly. Ordinarily I would have been thrilled to have Rainbow Dash give me a ride, but…not today. “Yeah.” “You have a smart grandmare, you know that?” “I do...?” “She asked me to stay nearby when she took you to the doctor, just in case things didn’t go as you hoped. Just in case you wanted to talk.” I looked down again. Way too far to jump. Ordinarily I also would have been thrilled to see Rainbow Dash at all, but…not today. Not today of all days. I felt too ashamed. A pegasus who couldn’t fly was like a unicorn who couldn’t do magic, or an earth pony who was extremely weak.. “Let me down.” I finally said. “I don’t think so.” She responded firmly. “I think you should tell me what happened.” I leaned over, putting my head on her neck because I just didn’t feel any energy. It wasn’t like I could go anywhere else. “My condition got worse. And he told me that if I can’t get the surgery by my normal growth spurt then my wings will just stay the same size or grow in wrong and I won’t be able to use them at all then.” I felt tears starting to come down my eyes again as I grabbed her neck, holding it hard, the shaking starting again. “I don’t get it!” I heard my voice crack. “All I EVER wanted was to be like you! Why? Why can’t I have that? What did I do to deserve this?” I saw Rainbow Dash glance behind at me, a sad look on her face. “Well, kid…you may never fly, but how would you like to see what it’s like to be Rainbow Dash for a day?” I didn’t know what she meant, and I didn’t know if I even cared. However I told her, “Okay.” With that she told me to hold on tight, and when I did she started racing to the ground. She started pulling off all sorts of tricks. I did feel a sort-of happiness from being along for the ride, but it was still outweighed by my sadness that I could never do it myself. After a few minutes she turned around to me again. I just stared back at her, still feeling torn up. “Stubborn, huh?” She said. “Just like me. I guess I’m going to have to bring out the big guns!” With that she let out a sly laugh, heading back to the ground. She got some rope, and went to Rarity’s boutique. With her magic she helped tie my back legs to Rainbow’s front legs, explaining that she was going to do something complicated and didn’t want to worry about me falling off. She went right outside, hovering as she tested out her control of her front legs. I felt my hooves move with hers. She asked where my house was, and I wearily told her. When we got there she grabbed my helmet and goggles, instructing me to put them on. I didn’t know where all of this was going, but I didn’t have the strength to try to dissuade her. “Alright, kid!” She said, a rising excitement in her voice. “Get ready for the flight of your life!” She started laughing as she flew straight upwards. Higher and higher we went until the whole town looked miniscule. We flew so high that I saw the stadium where the Best Young Fliers competition had been held not long ago. I found myself wondering how high she was going to go. For the ‘flight of my life’ simply heading straight up wasn’t exactly high on the list of things that would qualify. When she finally stopped she said, “Give me a countdown and hold on tight, kid!” Her voice was full of unbridled glee. I sighed. I felt like this was all so pointless. Nothing was going to cheer me up. Not ever Rainbow Dash could do that. But I decided to just play along. It wasn’t like I could do anything else, being so high up in the air and my legs attached to hers. I had to fight to keep a massive sarcastic tone to my voice as I said, “3…2…1…go.” I tried to emphasize the ‘go’ part but it just didn’t come out that way. The next thing I knew we were heading diagonally to the ground, much faster than we had gone up. Faster and faster I heard Rainbow’s wings going. At first I felt nothing. However, my eyes started widening and I felt a combination of fear and anticipation when I started to see that same warping of air I had seen at the competition. Even in my depressed state that caught my attention entirely. No…she wasn’t…surely she wasn’t about to…there was no way she was going to- I didn’t get to finish that thought. I only had just enough time to tighten my grip before the entire world seemed to warp around us like an arrow. Everything seemed to slow down for a few moments in time despite the intense speed we were going. The things around the side of us seemed to curve in, and I saw up close and personal the sonic shockwave seemingly erupt from her own body. The next thing I knew it was like we had jumped to another space entirely, like time had caught back up with us, and suddenly everything looked so much closer than it did a second ago. I felt the wind ripping at me, and I was glad I had goggles on or I probably wouldn’t have been able to see. I squeezed Rainbow like my life depended on it, scared of what would happen if I lost my grip on her. The sheer speed of it and the air blowing around us forced my wings open, and I couldn’t get them closed again. The ride was much more gentle, though still quite intense, after that first jump. We were coming up near the ground, and with her natural skill and extreme precision, she pulled herself up just in time, and now we were headed back up into the sky, a rainbow following us all the way. “Let me show you a trick I’ve been working on, Scootaloo.” She turned her head toward me, but I could still barely hear her over the sound of the wind. “It’s a trick I haven’t shown anyone else, and you’ll be the first to experience it. Mini rainboom barrage!” Mini rainboom barrage??? What in the world was that??? I didn’t know how much more I could take, but Rainbow Dash didn’t look like she was going to stop anytime soon. Rainbow Dash had that determined, confidant look on her face that had made me admire her in the first place. She turned her head back forward, and I made sure to tighten my grip again, as hard as I could.. With that she put on bursts of speed, each one causing a small boom, and as I looked behind us I could see circles of rainbow booms erupting on the path of the rainbow. And each time my heart jumped from the sudden acceleration. She was racing back toward the ground again, slowing down now and the rainbow following us began to vanish. When we hit the ground I couldn’t figure out why we were still going. At least, I thought we were. The whole world appeared to be spinning. I felt nauseous in a good way, my heart was going a mile a minute, and though Rainbow Dash had done all the work I was the one who felt exhausted. All four of my legs and my wings ached, but I had absolutely no complaints. It had been such a rush, such an unbelievable experience. So that was what it was like to be Rainbow Dash? Woooow. I’d take that any day. I tried to speak several times, but I couldn’t get my mouth to work. I felt myself let out little gasps and wheezy, giddy laughs. When I tried to raise my head off her neck my head swam so bad I had to close my eyes and settle back down. Rainbow Dash got somepony to untie the ropes around my legs. As soon as my legs were free I instantly fell off her back and onto the ground, trying to get my bearings. I still felt like we were flying. I couldn’t move at all. What a ride! “You alright there, kid?” I could see Rainbow Dash above me. “Don’t feel too bad. Not everybody can handle the awesomeness that is Rainbow Dash.” I felt lightheaded as I nodded, like I was half-asleep. The few things I could see on the ground still looked like they had that warped appearance to them. Even after about ten minutes I still hadn’t recovered enough to get up, so eventually Rainbow Dash just picked me up in her hooves and took me home herself. She set me in my bed and told me to rest before she left. My grandmare came in right after that, sitting next to me and rubbing her hoof through my mane. “Well, you certainly look like you’ve been through the ringer. Are you okay?” I nodded to her, and thankfully I didn’t feel as lightheaded this time. I finally found my voice. “I…I got to go on the most amazing ride. Rainbow Dash let me experience that sonic rainboom thing I told you about. You wouldn’t believe it. Watching it was cool, but being on her back when she did it was beyond anything else.” “I was right, then. I knew if anyone could help you out of your funk it would be her.” I struggled to get up, fighting off my swimming head, and hugged her. “I don’t want you to feel bad. You’re really special to me too.” “I know.” She said, pushing me back down. “I wouldn’t advise getting up at the moment. You don’t look so good.” In the end, it took another hour before I felt back to normal. The pure adrenaline that had ran through my body was extreme. That feeling of sheer speed, of the world passing by you in an instant…the feelings I experienced were beyond what I could put into words, but I did my best to tell her. Following that day me and my scooter were inseparable again. I knew it had made my condition worse before, but I didn’t see the point in NOT doing it. It came out to the same thing either way. The doctor had told me that if I couldn’t get the surgery before I started growing again that I was going to lose the use of wings for good. So if that was the case I was going to get all the use out of them I could while I was able to. Four months went by before I noticed it, my body growing at a greater rate than normal, and I knew that time had finally run out. I went to the doctor one last time. I had told my grandmare she didn’t need to bother Rainbow Dash this time. I didn’t have the false hope I did before. It wasn’t that I gave up, but more that I had resigned myself to the news. We hadn’t even come close to raising the money for that surgery, so I just had to accept it. I knew now that Rainbow Dash wouldn’t turn me away just because I couldn’t fly. If anything, I was at least somewhat thankful for my condition. After all, Rainbow Dash was the only one who had ever pulled off a sonic rainboom. I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it even without stunted wing. It was only because of this disability that I was able to experience what it was like. That memory still stood out to me, more vivid than any other in my life. Just like before they measured my wings and took x-rays. I guess I should have been more upset, but I really felt nothing at all when he returned. He had a look of shock on his face, scratching his head as he walked in. He seemed to be talking to himself. “I’ve never seen anything like this. I just can’t understand…this is…” He seemed to remember we were there, suddenly looking up. “That bad, huh?” I said with a laugh, even though there was nothing funny about it. He shook his head, before putting up two x-rays on the board. “Well, I don’t even know how to begin to explain this but…you’re cured.” His words penetrated my brain, and I fought back the feelings of relief that attempted to come out. “What do you mean, I’m cured?” “Exactly what I said.” He pointed to the two x-rays. “This first one here is from your last wing examination. And this one here is the one we just took. As you may be able to notice, your wing structure is considerably straighter and more expanded.” I still didn’t dare to hope. I didn’t WANT to hope. Not after I had worked so hard to accept that I would never be able to fly. “Oh, come on.” I said. “You probably just have the wrong chart. Mixed them up with another pegasus.” “That’s impossible. You’re the only pegasus in for exams right now.” In my mind I was telling him to stop. To stop. To stop it! Stop it! I felt a rising feeling of belief that I tried to crush. I didn’t want to hear it! I didn’t want to start believing again only to have my hopes dashed to pieces again. “R-rainbow Dash said that stunted wing can sometimes correct itself as the pony grows up.” “That…is true. However, the damage was too great. I’ve never seen a pegasus with that level of damage recover like this.” “Then there’s a problem with your machine!” I said, getting angry and upset. “You told me that using my wings was what made my condition worse in the first place, and since you said I was going to lose the use of them anyway when I hit the growth spurt I’m going through right now, I’ve been using them all the time. It can’t be true. It’s all a big mistake. Nothing’s changed. And…I…” Something came to me then, everything else fading away. Rainbow Dash…taking me on a sonic rainboom, my wings being forced open with the supersonic speeds. The numerous powerful jumps of her mini rainboom barrage, each one feeling like it was pulling at my wings almost painfully. Was it possible? Could it be possible that the pressure she created on my wings was enough to straighten my wings out? I said what I was thinking, and the doctor just looked more perplexed. “Well, it’s certainly not something we could test. Rainbow Dash is the only pony who’s ever pulled off that move. “Oh, yes. From what we saw of your wing measurement, they’ve grown in a little more, to the small side of what would be expected of your age group, but going from what I can see, your wings should grow in just fine. No telling when you’ll be able to use them to fly, but…that option is now available to you again.” I couldn’t hold it back anymore. The feeling of happiness rising up in me. I let out a happy scream. When we left I stared open-mouthed at the group gathered outside. Sweetie Belle, Applebloom, Rarity, Pinkie Pie, Twilight, Applejack, Fluttershy, and…Rainbow Dash. I turned toward my grandmare, and she looked back at me sheepishly. “Well, I know what you said, but I still felt that bad news feels easier to take when its shared with all the people you love.” I smiled at her. I wasn’t mad. How COULD I be mad? My dreams were being born anew. I could still be what I was meant to be. I told all of them the good news, and they were all just as happy as I was. I turned to Pinkie Pie. “Hey, Pinkie. You know what news like this is good for?” Pinkie gasped as she hopped into the air. “PARTY!!!!!!! Gimme five minutes.” With that she raced away so fast I was surprised she didn’t create the earth pony version of a sonic rainboom.. “Gosh, Rainbow Dash. I think Pinkie Pie may be the only one to beat you in speed…at least when it comes to parties.” She laughed at that. “I don’t think ANY pony can match up to Pinkie Pie when she get excited.” We all walked to Sugarcube Corner, me smiling all the way. The sound of birds chirping was like the most beautiful music, the sun felt so warm, the grass so soft, the breeze so refreshing. Colors seemed so much brighter. The party went on for hours, lasting until the night. At one point my grandmare bid us goodnight, and told me happily to come home whenever I was ready. I hadn’t felt this good all year. It hadn’t ended. I could still one day be the best flier or the best scooterist or whatever. Another week went by before Rainbow Dash came to visit my house. She had a much more serious look on her face than I’d ever seen on her before. She wore a hat and whistle. “Scootaloo.” She said sharply. “Do you still want to fly?” “Of course!” I said, thought with a touch of anxiousness from the way she was glaring at me. “No matter what it takes?” “Oh, yes!” “Well, then, let’s go.” She turned around and began walking away without a second look. I quickly gave a hurried goodbye to my grandmare before running after her. She took me up to a hill, telling me to sit down. When I did she said, “I’m warning you right now, Scootaloo. This is not playtime. This is training. And if you want to try to be as awesome a flier as me some day then I’m not going to baby you. I’m not going to take it easy on you. If you want it I’m going to make you WORK for it. Do you understand that?” I nodded. So THAT was why she seemed so different. She was trying to get into coaching mode. Whatever it was I felt I could handle it. I HAD to handle it. I was finally receiving direct instruction from my idol, and I didn’t want to let her down. She instructed me in stretching my wings so they wouldn’t get cramped, then about breathing in a steady rhythm and focusing. Then it was time to try to fly… Whew! Later on as I sat in my bed I reflected on my lesson. I was on my stomach, my wings throbbing. She certainly wasn’t kidding. Rainbow Dash was relentless. I barely got off the ground for more than a few seconds at any given time before I crashed. She didn’t accept excuses, and only gave me a short period of bearing with the pain from a crash before she snapped at me to get up and continue. I thought she was a little too critical. It was my first time, after all. We couldn’t all be experts like she was right away. But…I also knew it was pointless to say anything. She had told me from the beginning that that was the way it was going to be. I only had myself to blame if I didn’t realize what ‘not babying’ and ‘not taking it easy’ meant. We had training once a week, with Rainbow Dash giving me ‘homework’ of wing stretches and wing-ups every few hours to get more accustomed to using my wings. My second session was hardly better than my first. She was even harsher in her criticism, like she expected that one week of practice was supposed to have been sufficient for me to have developed to the standard she was looking for. She also gave me less time to sit and recover from my crashes. My third, fourth, and fifth sessions were basically the same. I did everything she asked me to, but every time I thought I was getting close to what she wanted, it felt like she moved the goal a few steps away from me, like she was hovering success over my head and daring me to take it, then yanking it away when I tried to grab it. I was slowly getting more frustrated with her. Why wouldn’t she cut me a break? I know she had said it would be hard, but I was still a filly for goodness sake. It felt like all she did was complain about me. She never praised me for my small accomplishments. I had actually managed to learn to glide, but she wasn’t satisfied because it wasn’t flying. I felt halfway to just giving up on those lessons of hers and just learning to fly on my own. One day, after yet another crash, I heard the familiar voice, blowing her whistle and yelling, “Let’s go, let’s go! Up, up, up! It’s training time. Sleep on your own time!” And for the first time ever I lost my temper on her. “NO!” I snapped. “I’m not getting up. I’m happier right here. I QUIT!!” “Quit? QUIT! You can’t quit!” “I can’t take it anymore. All you ever do is yell and scream and hurt my feelings. Fine, then. If I’m a baby, I’m a baby. I don’t want to work with you anymore!” I felt myself starting to cry, hiding my face behind my hooves. I expected more yelling and demeaning comments on how I was weak, but she didn’t say anything at all. Instead she walked over to me and sat down in front of me. In a calm voice she said, “You’re a tough little filly, Scootaloo. You’ve had to deal with things that most pegasi never have to deal with. To be honest, I lied. I never had stunted wing.” I looked up at her slightly, more curious than surprised or angry. “I just didn’t want to see you give up back then, and I thought it was the best way to keep you going and living a happy life, believing you would be okay. “And that hasn’t changed. I don’t want to see you give up. I’m a pretty good judge of other ponies talents. I couldn’t be the captain of the weather team and a good athlete if I wasn’t. I pushed you hard, harder than I know you would have liked, but I was never trying to be cruel. I wouldn’t push you so hard if I didn’t truly believe in my heart that you could handle it. You are MY sister, after all. However, it seems I got too far into the act of the tough coach, and I forgot to give you praise along the way. It was my own stupid way of trying to get you to work harder. I wanted you to think what you did wasn’t enough. I didn’t want you to simply be satisfied with gliding. I wanted you flying. “You had an excuse before, because of your stunted wing, but you don’t anymore. So, darn it, I want to get you airborne. I wanted to help you achieve your dreams. I never had a sister before, and so I’m still learning too about what is going too far and what’s acceptable, and for that I’m sorry, Scootaloo. Please don’t quit. I can tell that you’re getting close. Having been raised by an earth pony, you probably don’t even realize yourself how far you’ve come.” A sheepish look came to her face. “Well, I was saving this for when you actually flew for the first time, but…” To my surprise a tear came down her eye. “I’m so proud of you, Scootaloo!” I blinked happy tears out of my eyes. I couldn’t stay mad at her. The whole time she was still the same old Rainbow Dash I knew and loved. I got up and sat next to her, and she put a wing around me. “I…I’m not gonna quit!” I said. “Rainbow Dash never quits, and I won’t either. I just…” “I know.” She said. “I won’t relent on you during training time because I know you can take it, but after training is over I’ll make sure to throw in a few compliments and rewards for you hard work. Okay?” I nodded. That was fine. The next three months were among the most difficult of my life. As she said while we were working she was still shamelessly critical, forcing me to new heights and full of complaints, but after we called it quits for the day she’d talk about all the things I had done right and improved on, then bought me a treat from Sugarcube Corner. Now that I knew why she so tough on me, and with the promise of a reward at the end of our sessions, I came to look forward to my flying lessons. I always went home feeling sore for a few days, but with all the practice at home I was doing I could just FEEL it. I could feel my wings becoming stronger. Finally, the day arrived. I took a running start, heading for the small hill that had withstood all my efforts, like the space right in front of it was determined to pull me down to the ground. I jumped, flapping my wings, closing my eyes and almost waiting for the pain that always awaited me. But…it didn’t come. I looked down, and to my surprise I wasn’t heading towards the ground. I was heading in a straight line, keeping a steady pace. I let out a victorious laugh, looking at my wings. “Scootaloo! Eyes up front!” Came a worried voice. I looked back in front of me, and I froze up as I was about to crash headfirst into a tree. The next thing I knew Rainbow Dash was in front of me, grabbing me. She helped me to the ground. “Way to go, kid!” Rainbow Dash said, letting out a whoop, obvious pride in her voice. “But do make sure you watch where you’re flying. You could have gotten hurt.” “Yeah…” I said awkwardly. “Not the best way to kick off a celebration.” “This deserves a reward! Where do you want to go?” With a determined look I said, “Back to the top of the hill! Practice isn’t over yet for another thirty minutes.” I gave her chest a light smack with my hoof. “And you! You’re not supposed to take it easy on me. What were you thinking, trying to end practice early, huh?” At first she looked surprised, but then a slowly expanding grin came to her lips. With a mighty blow on her whistle her eyes narrowed. “Alright! What’s with all the yapping? You think one lucky time qualifies as flying? Back to work you lazy filly!” “Yes, ma’am!” I said, running to the top of the hill. As I looked out upon the ground below I felt confident. If I could do it once, then I could do it twice, then three times, then four times, and- I shook my head as another whistle blast went off. I was getting distracted. I backed up enough for a running start. Then ran forward, unfurling my wings and giving them a few small flaps before I jumped. I looked at the ground beneath me as I continued flapping. Once again the ground stayed steady beneath me. This time I made sure to look in front of me to avoid a possible accident. I felt like a master of the sky…at least for the next hundred feet. I lost my rhythm, and one of my wings got out of sync with the other, and I found myself heading to the ground. It hurt, of course, but not like before. It felt like almost nothing compared to my progress. The day I had finally made it off the ground. Over the next two months, now that I had actually progressed to getting off the ground, I was given a whole slew of new moves to master. When I brought up to her that feeling of her moving the goal posts she didn’t even try to deny it. She confirmed it, and confirmed it hard. She told me that learning and growing never stops. There is no final goal post, because every time you reached your goal there was always another goal right in front of it to attempt. If I stopped at a goal, then I’d cease to improve. Most of my home training consisted of straining to hover as long as possible. The whole goal of that was to teach me better wing control. She said that I should only head back towards the floor out of tiredness, not because I lost control of my wing tempo. During our training sessions together she tried to get me to learn to fight gravity and get as much air as possible, because I tended to only stay a few feet off the ground at most, just in case. She promised to catch me if I fell, so I did what she asked. I’m sure the numerous times she had to stop me from crashing to the ground were from nerves and thinking too hard about my wings, as over time I had stopped having trouble with just basic flying in a straight line. Now I was trying to add in turns and adjusting height. That was a whole lot more complicated and required even more wing control and fine-tuning turns and shifts in body weight to the direction I wanted to go. It was kinda nice to have my living safety net beneath me, but I also felt it was holding me back. What had pushed me before was partly the simple fact that if I missed the jump I was headed to the ground and pain. At the same time, a simple ten foot crash was nothing to thinking of losing control from fifty feet in the air. Little by little, bit by bit, my weak wings fighting me every step of the way as I pushed them to new heights, I steadily improved. I was no Rainbow Dash, but I wasn’t the helpless case I had been. Rainbow Dash had become much more forthcoming with her praise, not being nearly as harsh and critical as she had been at the beginning. One day when I got home from my latest session I noticed that for the first time, despite how hard I had worked, that my wings weren’t throbbing and burning like they usually did. I guess it was just a sign of how far I had come. I went to my room to wind down, my grandmare bringing me some water to drink as I told her about how things had gone. She told me how proud she was of me. I sat in her lap and just dozed as she rubbed my back. The next week after out training session I got a surprise from Rainbow Dash. She asked me if I would be interested in living with her on an occasional basis. I was torn. The thought of moving in with my idol was pretty amazing to think about, but… What about my grandmare? She had cared for me ever since I was a baby. She would probably miss me too much. With a feeling of regret, I said, “I…I can’t. I don’t think I could leave my grandmare behind.” “Well, like I said it wouldn’t be a full-time thing. You could just sleep over and hang out more. I still have my own obligations so I couldn’t watch you ALL the time. But if we’re going to be sisters, than I’d like to make a room for you to stay in you ever want to sleep over.” “Rainbow Dash…why…” I hesitated for a few moments as she looked at me curiously. “Why did you choose me?” “What do you mean?” “I mean…we’d only met a hoofful of times before you agreed to become sisters. It’s not that I mind, but why me? I’m sure other ponies find you just as amazing and spectacular as me. What makes me so special? Why make me your sister and spend all this time teaching me to fly? And now you want me to move in with you.” Rainbow Dash smiled. “Well, kiddo, the simple answer is that it feels good to do good. Sure, I already have quite a few fans, as evidenced by the fan club you made, but you’re the most special of all.” Again I asked, “Why?” “Every pony needs a hero to look up, kid, and you needed one more than anypony else. You were struggling with a condition that put your whole well-being at risk. I could see a pony who was thinking of giving up and quitting, and nothing is more sad than that. Very few pegasi, like Fluttershy, aren’t that interested in flying. Our wings are a part of who we are. Most pegasus ponies dream of flying toward the sun, making the sky their kingdom and feeling the breeze of the pure freedom that flying around gives you. That’s why I took an interest in you. I could tell you really looked up to me ever since our first meeting. So that’s why the next few times I ran into you I did my best to cheer you up, so that you wouldn’t quit no matter how tough things got. Then you brought up looking for someone to teach you to fly and wanting someone to take you under their wing and be a big sister to you. I was an only child myself, so I thought it would be fun to have a younger sister to look after.” “Oh, okay. I get it. So…then…do you have a hero you look up to as well?” “Of course. Spitfire, the captain of the Wonderbolts.” “You know, I heard you talk about the Wonderbolts a lot, but why are they so special to you? Why is she your hero?” “The Wonderbolts are who made me who I am today. I owe them everything. When I was just a filly my parents took me to a Wonderbolts show, and their performance blew my mind. The tricks they could do were incredible. At the end, I was one of the lucky few picked out of the audience to ask a question and got a poster autographed by all of them. It was one of the best days of my whole life, and watching them made my own path clear. I was an average flier at the time, because before I met them I didn’t see much need to pull off fancy moves. I thought flying was just flying. Shortly before summer vacation our teacher gave out papers for junior flight camp. I begged my parents to let me go. It was there that I first met Fluttershy. She said that she hadn’t wanted to go, but she was a weak flier and her parents pushed her into it so that she would improve. There were some bullies there who made fun of me when I messed up a trick. They didn’t bother me that much, because I had a goal clear in my mind. But Fluttershy was another matter. Besides being bad at flying, she also had almost zero confidence in herself. I came to her rescue, challenging them to a race. That was the race I was telling you about, where I first did a sonic rainboom and got my cutie mark. It wasn’t until I actually tried to become a good racer and put my heart into it that I could unlock my true potential. And I saw that I indeed had what it took. In that moment, with the speed pushing my mane back, my heart racing in excitement, I pulled off a move that was thought to be just a legend. And it was at that point that I knew that one day I would become a Wonderbolt if it was the last thing I did. It’s what made me push to learn everything I could about them and learn from them.” “Wow…” I said, amazed. “But, since you can now do a sonic rainboom whenever you want instead of by accident, how come you’re not a Wonderbolt yet?” “Well, there’s a very simple answer.” An annoyed frown came to her lips, and her voice was more like a growl as she continued, “A very simple, STUPID reason. I’m not old enough.” “Not old enough? It’s just a flying group, isn’t it? What does it matter how old you are if you can fly like you can?” With a sigh her voice returned to normal. “It’s a little more than JUST a flying group. The Wonderbolts are considered some of the most special pegasi in all of Equestria and they act as the first line of defense against threats to the town, like Celestia’s royal guards. Many try, but very, very few ever get in. In a little over two years I can sign up for the Wonderbolt Academy, the first step toward my dream. If I can prove myself there and make it through the first screening process, I’m sure they’ll eventually let me join. While I know I may boast and brag like nopony’s business, I never let myself think I’m so perfect that I don’t have to practice anymore. If I failed the academy just because I was a little out of practice I’d never be able to forgive myself. I always make sure to keep myself in good shape. I work out every day, I take naps when I need to. I eat healthy. “So I understand you pretty well, Scootaloo. You’re a lot like me, wanting to catch up to someone you respect, and it’s taken me many years of hard, intense practice on my own to get to the level I’m at. And that’s why, when I first started training you, I refused to go easy on you. If you seek to be the best, you’re going to get a LOT of criticism along the way. If you mess up people will either laugh at you or mock you, like those bullies at flight camp. And if you’re successful then you’ll always have ponies who are jealous of you and will seek to bring you down any way they can. It’s not just about being physically stronger. It’s about becoming mentally and emotionally stronger, so you can drone out the negative voices telling you you’re no good, and listen to the voice inside you that knows the truth. However, like I said back then, I know I did go a little too far overboard with the criticism, but you managed to endure a lot of it before you finally broke and showed me I was screwing it up. I hate excuses for weakness, as you learned from your earliest sessions, so I’m not going to make one. I got so wrapped up in wanting to see you fly that you started growing to hate me. I was looking out for your future self and wasn’t paying attention to the sad you of the present who wasn’t ready to take on a never-ending barrage of putdowns. I learned my lesson from that. Although we all like to think so, our idols are not perfect either. I’m sure Spitfire has her fair share of flaws and mistakes…ones that I wouldn’t want to know about. “So the reason I’m asking you about staying with me from time to time is that it gives me more time to focus on you. Outside of training, I trust you that you’re doing your homework, but I’m not there to make sure you’re doing it correctly. Let’s see what your grandmare has to say on the subject.” “I…um…no.” I’m sure I sounded just like Fluttershy when I said that. “Why not? It’s not like I’m taking you the next town over. You can go visit her whenever you want.” “I…I know, but…” I rubbed my hoof against my other one, feeling uncomfortable. “After you took me back home, that day I got to see what a sonic rainboom was like from your back, my grandmare came in. She told me that she knew if anyone could cheer me up then it would be you. It just makes me feel guilty, like I’m an ungrateful brat who’s trying to abandon her for something better. I don’t want her to feel useless, or that I’m going to choose my new family over my old family. She means so much to me, taking me in as a baby despite not knowing if I would survive. Now lately you’ve been taking on her role, helping me through things she can’t.” “Ahhhh.” Said Rainbow Dash. She came over and sat down next to me, putting her wing around me like the day we had become sisters. “I think you’re underestimating your grandmare.” I felt anger bubbling beneath the surface. I had known her much longer than Rainbow Dash, so what made HER think she knew my grandmare so well? “Why do you say that?” I asked, trying to keep my voice neutral. “Because SHE was the one who came up to ME with the idea.” I started blinking in confusion. “She…she did?” “Yes. I thought it sounded fine. But we should go to her. You can get your explanation directly from her.” I walked behind Rainbow Dash in a bit of a daze. I wondered what my grandmare was thinking. After just defending her, now it felt like she was trying to get rid of me. But…but… But she wouldn’t do that! There had to be a reason. I trusted her, just like I trusted my friends and Rainbow Dash. She wouldn’t do anything to deliberately hurt me. When we got to my house I saw my grandmare in the kitchen sitting in her rocking chair, reading a book. When she saw us she said, “Hey there, you two. How was your practice?” I gulped, feeling hesitant in bringing it up. I knew that I believed in her, but at the same time…I…well…I just didn’t know what kind of explanation she would have for asking Rainbow Dash for taking me in. The only thing I could think of was exactly what I feared. Rainbow Dash gently nudged me forward. “Go on. You have nothing to worry about.” She whispered to me. With a deep breath I walked over to her, sitting on her lap. “Rainbow Dash says you asked her to take me in.” Though I tried to hold it back I felt tears start coming down my face as I asked. “Do you not want me anymore?” A heartbroken look came to her face. “Oh, Scootaloo!” She said, holding me tightly to her. “How could you even think that? Of course I still want you.” As she held me to her I felt that same comforting, loving touch I had always known from her. I calmed down a little bit. “So then…why?” I asked, not pulling away from her hold. “It’s simple really. You’re starting to grow up. I know you’ll never stop needing me, but I want to give you the room you need to develop into the pony you are meant to be. Since meeting Rainbow Dash, she has transformed your whole world. She helped you out, accidentally, with your stunted wing. Now she’s teaching you to fly. I can see that with her help you’re growing more powerful, more confident. Rainbow Dash is also a pegasus, just like you, so she can understand you and what you’re going through a lot better than I ever could. “And…well, there’s no other way to say it, but I’m getting older, Scootaloo. I can’t always keep up with you or help you out with the things you need. It’s not ‘giving you up’, I’m just making what I feel is the best move for you. I think moving in with Rainbow Dash for a time will help you evolve and mature much faster. “Having taken care of my own child before you, it’s easy to read your mind. You’re not leaving me behind or abandoning me. You’re not being ungrateful. You’re growing up! All parents eventually have to deal with it. And while it can feel sad and lonely, the feeling of pride often overwhelms it, of seeing their babies grow from helpless little things to ones that can take care of themselves.” My tears had stopped. So that was it. Just like Rainbow Dash, she felt like the future was coming around the corner, and she wanted to help me with my dreams. Pulling myself out of her hold I looked up, meeting her eyes, full of love and compassion. “I love you!” I said, meaning it with all my heart. “And I love you too, my little angel.” “I don’t mind getting a room with Rainbow Dash, but…I’ll come visit you as much as I can. You were the one who kept me safe until I could find the pony who could teach me to be strong. I couldn’t ever not want to visit you.” “I know, little one.” The next day I had to get something out of the shed in the back yard, and I felt a strange pang as I saw my long forgotten friend. I felt a strong burst of emotions as I saw my scooter, collecting dust. I had been too busy working on all the complicated mechanics of flight for the past half-year to think much about it. I pulled it out of the shed, getting some soap and water and scrubbing it clean until it practically shined. I threw on my helmet, and stood on it. It still felt as natural as it had all those months ago when I was riding it all the time. I did have to do some work on readjusting myself to it. As Rainbow Dash had said, stronger wings meant greater speeds, so I found myself going a lot faster than I remembered. I felt intense happiness as I traveled around on my scooter. Learning to fly was a very stressful experience. This was something I knew how to do, and I had forgotten just how much I loved riding it. It was certainly a much more comfortable and easier ride than flying was. I didn’t have any intention of stopping my flying lessons, but I didn’t see any reason I couldn’t take a break and just enjoy doing something I loved to do for a few days. In fact, compared to before, I found tricks even easier to pull off. Just like I thought, learning to master my wings helped me with my scooter riding. I was swerving around objects when I suddenly heard a terrified scream just to the right of me. I turned towards it and I saw a baby carriage heading down a hill. I didn’t think twice about it. I turned my scooter around, flapping my wings hard. The carriage had a head start, but I knew the momentum from my going down the hill would allow me to catch up. Or so I had hoped. As we both went down the hill I saw I was getting close to it, but I wouldn’t have time to get the baby out before it went over. Well, then! I guess it was time to put all my training to the test. At the end of a hill was a ramp. I could take that and still have plenty of time to save the baby. Or so I had hoped. The ramp up was sharper than it initially looked. The carriage came to a hard stop at the very end, and to my horror the pink-coated baby was launched out of the cart. My heart started racing. My momentum and the lightness of my scooter allowed ME to go over the ramp, but I didn’t know if I was going to have enough time. As we both went flying up into the air I saw the baby more clearly. It was a little pegasus foal. No choice! With a small pang of regret I used my feet to launch my scooter toward a patch of trees so no one would get hurt. I knew I’d need all the control I could get, and although I was still training my wings, I felt that I could handle this. I tried to remember everything that Rainbow Dash had taught me about flying. Watch your breathing, keep your wings in a mirror image as much as possible to keep control- No more time to think. We had reached the peak of our jumps. I made a grab for the baby, but missed at the last second as gravity pulled her towards the ground, the baby now considerably lower than I was, heading towards the ground at a diagonal angle. At first I didn’t know if I was going to make it, but as I flapped my wings, my hooves straight in front of me as I strained to get the most speed I could to catch up, something…something passed right in front of my eyes. An image I didn’t have time to dwell on as I raced toward the little pegasus. All I knew was that, at that moment, it had stopped being a matter of whether I could or couldn’t. It had become I HAD to save her. It was deeper than proving myself to Rainbow Dash, or getting a chance to test my training. It was deeper than even I could explain. It became an all-consuming desire that I absolutely, positively, would NOT let any harm come to this baby! Even with my intense focus and fading away of thoughts instinct still kicked in. I had to be extremely careful with my speed and pull-up, or else I would wind up crashing into the ground, which didn’t help anyone. I sat on the razor’s edge, closing the gap between me and the foal, my hooves behind me for less wind resistance. This was going to be a close call. I would either grab the baby and pull up at the last second, or I would pull up too soon and miss her, but I wasn’t going to let that happen. Time seemed to slow down, everything felt like it was moving at a snail’s pace. I wasn’t fooling myself. I knew I wasn’t about to pull off a sonic rainboom or anything. It was just a result of my single-minded focus and adrenaline Seconds passed by like minutes, sounds became muted, and all I knew was the race…the race to claim the baby between myself and the ground. I closed the gap slowly but surely, the baby only a second or two from smashing into the ground. I reached out my hooves and…I grabbed her! With a hard pull I yanked myself up, shifting my body weight as much as I could. I grimaced as my wings suddenly burned severely. Sharp turns were still not my strong suit. I felt my wings lock up, cramping in protest, and as fast as I headed up I started heading towards the ground again, my wings no longer wanting to cooperate. Through the pain I flapped as much as I was able, trying to slow my fall as much as possible before I suddenly turned over onto my back, putting my hooves protectively around the baby and holding her as close to me as I could as I crashed into the dirt, feeling the rocks dig into me as I skidded along the grass. I felt like my whole back was sore, my wings felt like they were on fire…but when I opened my eyes and saw the baby pegasus, intact and unharmed, I felt the pain fade away, tears coming down my eyes. I had done it! Maybe not with the style and flair Rainbow Dash would have done it with, but I had still done it. And all by myself too! The pegasus let out a giddy laugh, like it had enjoyed the ride. Wearily I thought, ‘I’m glad one of us liked it.’ Like an explosion, it was like the sound had come back on, and all I heard were loud and thunderous cheers. As I slowly turned over on my stomach, then got up still holding the pegasus, I looked around to see a bunch of ponies running towards me, throwing congratulations and praise my way. The mother finally got through the group crowding me. “Oh, Rose Blossom!” She cried out, running over to the baby and taking her from me, holding her close and hugging her, tears coming down her eyes as she cried out, “You’re alright!” The mother gave her baby to a stallion that was probably her husband, and now she was hugging me too, thanking me endlessly for protecting her child. I felt my throat getting tight, a feeling of uncontained joy rising up. I suddenly saw the flash of cameras taking my picture. The whole thing felt unreal. A brown mare wearing a reporter hat came up to me, asking if she could ask me a few questions. “Sure.” I replied, my mind feeling like it was in a daze. “What’s your name, little hero?” “My…my name?” I asked confusedly, the emotions I was experiencing beginning to get to me. “Scootaloo!” Said a voice from above me, and the next thing I knew Rainbow Dash landed next to me. “Her name is Scootaloo, second coolest pony in Equestria.” “Rainbow Dash…” I said weakly. I couldn’t figure out why I felt so out of it. I wasn’t tired. I didn’t even feel that hurt. Even her praise, the highest she could give, didn’t faze me out of it. “Scootaloo, huh?” Said the reporter. “So, Scootaloo, what do you think made you take on the role of a hero and save that baby? What was it…Rose Blossom?” Her question suddenly connected the pieces in my mind, and once more I saw the image that had come into my mind, of the condition my grandmare had described me to be in when she found me. Only now I didn’t have to push it away. “I…I just knew I had to do it.” I said, my voice almost a whisper as tears started coming down my eyes. “I…” I wasn’t even thinking of being embarrassed as I continued, “A few months ago I found out I had stunted wing. The doctor said it was from an injury I had gotten when I was only a baby. My adoptive grandmare found me injured from a fall, my wings both damaged, and even though they healed up it still affected me later. I’m cured now thanks to good luck, but…I…” I looked over at little Rose Blossom, smiling and happy in the hooves of her parents. “I just…I just didn’t want to see another pegasus have to go through what I had to go through. The fear of never being able to take to the skies. Being different from all the other pegasi. And…and that’s why…I…I just…I had to save her.” The reality of what I had done was finally hitting me. I had saved her life! I…had saved a life. If not from dying, then from the kind of injuries I had gotten from my own fall. And…her parents didn’t have to spend months at the hospital worrying about their babies safety. I heard the reporter start saying something else, but Rainbow Dash cut her off. “Alright, alright. That’s enough questions! She’s getting overwhelmed here. Just leave her be.” Then, not giving them a chance to object, she grabbed me, threw me on her back, and flew away. Despite the raging emotions going through me, it still brought a laugh from me. She brought me to her house, where she said we wouldn’t be bothered. She set me on her bed, then went and brought me a drink. I drank it all down quickly, before handing her back the glass. “Thank you, Rainbow Dash.” I said, my eyes still feeling misty. “T-t-thank you! Thank you!” “Alright there, kid. Settle down.” She said, sitting next to me. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t calm down. I was too hyped up. She couldn’t possibly understand the depth of my gratitude. From the beginning she had saved me so many times I could hardly keep count. Every time I needed help, she was there. Especially today, the most important of all the days I had been alive. She put her wing over me, just letting me cry myself out as I hugged her tightly. When I finally got control of myself I looked into her eyes, and I said, much more calmly this time, “Thank you. Thank you for praising me in front of everyone, and for taking me away when I needed it, and, especially, thank you for never stopping to take it easy on me in my lessons. If it hadn’t been for you I never would have been able to save Rose Blossom, and she would have gotten hurt.” A guilty look crossed her face, and she looked away sheepishly. “Welllllll….that’s not quite true.” “What do you mean?” She smiled and said, “Well, I was there from the start, flying close by.” “You were?” I asked confusedly. “Then why…why didn’t you…?” “Isn’t is obvious?” She asked with a grin, looking at me again. “Because YOU were there, of course. This was your rescue, and your attempt to prove yourself. Who was I to intrude?” “W-wha-wha-WHAT?” I said loudly. “What if I didn’t make it? What if-“ She put a hoof to my mouth, silencing me. “I wasn’t worried. I knew you would make it.” “Why?” “Because I believed in you, obviously. If I didn’t think you could handle everything that comes your way, I never would have bothered training you in the first place.” She rubbed her hoof through my mane, mussing it up. “Just don’t let it get to your head. You’ve still got a long ways to go yet to catch up to me, but I’m just so darn proud of you I can hardly find the words for it. You’ve grown so much in past six months you’re almost unrecognizable as the weak little filly you used to be. And don’t you dare give me all the credit. Of course, you DO owe a lot of it to me, but you’re the one who pushed through all the obstacles in your way to become your own pony. Way to go, my number one fan!” Her words meant more to me than I could say. She had done nothing but watch, fully believing in my capabilities. She made me think I was the only one around who could handle the job, and so I had to push myself harder than I usually did. “Rainbow Dash...” I started to try to thank her, when my wings twitched painfully, and I felt myself tense up, my one eye closing from the pain. “Can you get me some ice for my wings?” Now that all the excitement was over, the soreness was coming back. “Sure, kid. Anything you want.” She left and returned a minute later with an ice pack, the cold feeling so good on my weary wings. The pain started going away, and I felt my body begin to relax. I closed my eyes, my mind going back to Rose Blossom and her parents, of having saved all three of them from being miserable. The image of that happy family scene brought me much joy for them, but…it also made me start crying, for the first time I was feeling sad over the parents I never had. Whether my parents hadn’t wanted me and just threw me away in the woods, or whether they had been attacked by something in the Everfree Forest…it really made no difference. The point was that I didn’t have them, never even got a chance to know them. For a moment I had been imagining a baby me in their hooves instead of Rose Blossom. I felt so…jealous. However, it wasn’t like I was alone. My grandmare had cared for me like her own daughter. And now I had my sister Rainbow Dash. And whatever happened to my parents, I chose to believe they wanted the best for me, and they wouldn’t me to cry over them. Going by my friends and family, I knew they’re much happier when I am. So I’m sure my parents would feel the same way. When the ache of my wings going away, I kept my eyes closed, and before I knew it I was out. I don’t know how long it was, but I could feel Rainbow Dash shaking me, telling me I had to get up. I mumbled sleepily for a moment before I opened my eyes, gazing into hers. “Come on there, sleepyhead. I have to go on weather patrol and I don’t know if your wings are in good enough condition at the moment to make the flight down.” She picked me up, and I was already starting to feel awake. I very slowly stretched my wings. I felt a few painful twinges as I went through the motions of moving my wings all the way around, so I thought it was probably for the best not to use them today. We flew towards the ground, and Rainbow Dash asked me, “So, Scootaloo. How are you feeling?” “A little bit sore, but I’ll just walk today.” I suddenly felt the loss of my vehicle. “I mean, it’s not like I have a scooter anymore now. It probably crashed into one of the trees and broke into a hundred pieces.” I sighed. “So, what, are you regretting saving Rose Blossom now?” “What kinda question is that?” I asked, getting defensive. “Of course not! I still would have saved her if I knew my scooter was going to be destroyed. What? I can’t be upset over losing the special gift my grandmare gave me?” Rainbow Dash just laughed. As we neared my house she told me to cover my eyes, because she had my reward waiting. So I did. I felt her touch the ground and waited until she gave me the signal. When I opened my eyes I shot up with happy surprise. “My scooter!” I cried out, hopping off her back and running up to it, hugging it to me. “But…but I thought…” I turned to Rainbow Dash. “I remember I deliberately sent it toward the trees so it wouldn’t hit anyone and hurt them.” “You did, and that probably would have broken it…but I told you that I was watching from the beginning, and I managed to grab it first.” “This is so great!” “So, Scootaloo, I think you have someone waiting for your news. I’ll catch you around, kid.” She gave me a quick salute, then patted me on the head a few times before she flew off. I ran inside, looking for my grandmare. When I saw her she asked where I had gone so suddenly. I looked at her awkwardly as I remembered I was supposed to grab something out of the shed for her. “Sorry.” I said with an embarrassed grin. “I took my scooter out for the first time since I started learning to fly, and I just had to ride it for a while.” “Oh, well it would have been nice if you would have told me.” I apologized again, before suddenly saying, “I saved a baby today!” “Hmm?” “I was riding along, when I suddenly heard a scream, and I saw a baby carriage heading down a hill. I immediately went after it. The baby went flying, me chasing after it, using all my training to catch up to her and grab her right before she hit the ground.” “That’s great, Scootaloo!” With a bit of shyness I continued, “It was a pegasus baby.” She seemed to understand what I was trying to say without me going on. “So you tried so hard because of what happened to you when you were just a foal?” I nodded. “Well, good for you. You finally have the power to fight for your beliefs.” “No! Not yet..” I said, shaking my head. “I still have a long way to go. I pulled up too sharply and wound up crashing from the pain in my wings. Luckily I was able to turn onto by back so the baby didn’t get hurt, but I’m not always going to be that lucky. I don’t want me being able to rescue people only being about luck. I need skill. And for that I need to work even harder at my practice. A lot harder than I did to get this good. I…I don’t want anypony to get hurt just because I wasn’t trained enough. I want to help save all the ponies I can from being hurt, because I don’t want any of them to lose their dreams like I almost did.” “Well, Scootaloo, that was a very brave thing you did, but you shouldn’t rush out to be a hero. You’re still young, so you should enjoy this time you have between a filly and mare. You’re still growing up, you know. One wrong move, one mistake in judgment, and you could get yourself hurt along with the pony you’re trying to save.” “I know that! That’s why I said I have to get a whole lot better.” She laughed, a wheezy laugh that made her cough. “I know you will, Scootaloo.” She said weakly. “Are you okay?” “Yes…well except for being old.” Another weak laugh from her. The next day when I went to school I sat down at my desk. Miss Cheerilee stood at the front of the class. “Good morning, class!” She said in her usual sunny manner. “Before we start on classwork I’d like to make a little announcement and give a big congratulations to one of our special students: Scootaloo!” “Hmmm?” I responded, wondering why she was calling me. She took out a copy of the Ponyville Express, and to my shock I saw my own picture staring back at me, one of me holding Rose Blossom and another of the baby’s mother hugging me. A caption up top read “Ponyville’s newest little hero.” “That was a truly heroic thing you did, Scootaloo, and I couldn’t be prouder to have you as one of my students.” A small flurry of talking broke out, my classmates asking both me and Miss Cheerilee what happened. When she settled them back down she invited me up to tell the story. I felt a little embarrassed as I walked to the front of the class and told them about how I had been training really hard in learning to fly and how it allowed me to protect the foal from harm. Even Diamond Tiara seemed to be impressed, though she surely did her best to look disinterested. Even though I fully expected it, she didn’t try to call attention to the fact that I had crashed at the end. During recess I asked to look at the newspaper article, and I found out that the baby’s parents were named Star Gazer and Cloud Hunter. Star Gazer was the mother, and Cloud Hunter the father. After school I was about to head to the clubhouse with my friends to plan our newest attempt to get our cutie marks, when I heard a voice calling my name. I turned around and to my surprise I saw Rose Blossom and Star Gazer. This time Rose Blossom was walking instead of sitting in her carriage. The baby ran over to me, saying, “Hi!” We greeted her back. She was really adorable. Star Gazer walked up to us and said, “I’m glad I caught you. It’s a good thing there’s only one elementary school in the area. I’ve been wanting to see you since that blue pegasus suddenly rushed you away.” “Oh, that was Rainbow Dash. I just needed to get away. It was all a bit too much for me. I’ve never tried to save someone before, but I knew it was what she would do, so I knew I had to do it too.” “Are you feeling okay? I know you crashed into the ground at the end.” “Oh, yeah. I’m fine. I was a little sore right afterward, but it doesn’t hurt anymore.” “I’m glad.” She reached into her saddlebag, pulling out a wrapped bag. “I brought you a batch of fresh-baked cookies.” “Cool!” I said. As I took them I saw tears coming down her eyes, and then suddenly she was hugging me again like yesterday. “I can never thank you enough for what you did, Scootaloo. Yesterday I just couldn’t stop thinking about what I would do if my little Rose was hurt, and you…you protected her. Thank you so much!” I felt my own tears start, that warm feeling bubbling up inside of me again. I knew I still wasn’t anywhere near Rainbow Dash’s level in terms of skill, speed, or experience, but even with what little I had I was still able to rescue a whole family all by myself. I tried to say it was nothing, but I knew it wasn’t true. It was something. It was a BIG something, and I only had to look at my own life to know that. Since I couldn’t think of anything to say, I just said nothing, letting her hug me and enjoying the feeling. It felt good. Being a hero…being admired by those you helped. It was a small step, just a tiny step in the path that led to reaching Rainbow Dash, but I had taken it alone, without anyone to help me. When she finally let me go, her tears seemed to have stopped, but as our eyes met they instantly started again, but now she had a smile on her face. I smiled back at her, trying to think of what Rainbow Dash would say in this situation. “All in a day’s work, ma’am. Scootaloo is always ready to try to save others.” Then I gave a small bow and attempted a confident look. “You’re pretty mature for your age.” She noted. “You must follow someone respectable.” “Yeah. Rainbow Dash! She’s only the best flier in all of Equestria. She’s been teaching me how to fly, and if it wasn’t for her lessons I wouldn’t have been able to save Rose Blossom. Up until a few months ago I thought I was never going to be able to fly, because of my…stunted wing.” I hesitated at naming the condition. Even though I was cured now, I still felt a touch of shame mentioning it. “She sounds like a fine role model…if a touch in love with herself, if you’re anything to go by.” She said it with a laugh and a smile. I laughed too, because I couldn’t deny it. What had first caught my attention when I had met her was her supreme confidence. It was sometimes arrogance, but for the most part she really WAS just that good at what she did. Although we still had to head to the clubhouse, I found myself not wanting to leave. I watched Rose Blossom, running around chasing a butterfly, her little wings fluttering, and I just felt like I didn’t want to leave her. DING! Idea! “Hey, do you need a foal sitter?” The question seemed to take her by surprise, but she recovered quickly. “Well, I do have to hit up a few stores. It might be easier if I didn’t have to wonder about her wandering off. Are you sure you’re up for it?” “What about our crusaders meeting?” Asked Applebloom. “Hey, we never tried for a foal-sitting cutie mark before.” I responded. “Maybe that’s what we can do.” With a bit of sarcasm Sweetie Belle cut in, saying, “Oh, just like we were cut out to be pet-sitters?” I hadn’t forgotten our attempt to watch six pets at once, but I wasn’t worried. “Hey, that’s different.” “How?” “Because this time there’s more of us than there are of her.” I replied simply. “Well…I guess it’s worth a shot. We need to try everything we can.” Star Gazer reached behind her, taking off a saddlebag. “Everything you need is inside. She’s a pretty easygoing pony, so she shouldn’t give you much trouble, but she’s exceedingly curious and still occasionally gets brief flying periods. So just keep an eye on her.” “Okay. We’ll be at the clubhouse in Sweet Apple Acres.” “That sounds good. Thank you, Scootaloo.” “No problem.” Star Gazer picked up Rose Blossom, saying, “Okay, little Rosie. You’re going to play with Scootaloo for a little while, okay?” I put my face close to Rose Blossoms and said, “Would you like to play with me? I’m Scootaloo.” Rose Blossom laughed. “Scootieloo.” “Close enough.” With a farewell she gave her child to me. When she walked off Rose Blossom looked about to cry, reaching futilely for her mom. “It’s okay, Rosie.” I threw the baby up into the air, catching her as she came down. Rose Blossom laughed, saying, “Again!” I did this a few more times, and got more giggles. I kept this up until with a bit of panic Rose Blossom naturally flapped her wings, moving slightly away from me, and I nearly missed her as the baby lost her small bit of control of her tiny wings. With a nervous laugh I said, “Okay, that’s enough of that game. Let’s go to the clubhouse.” “Okay. I’ll grab the bag.” Said Applebloom. “And I’ll grab the cookies!” Said Sweetie Belle. “Hey, those are for me!” I said. “But I’ll share them with you, since you’re helping me out.” The three of us went to the clubhouse after getting some milk for our cookies from Applejack. She told us that if we needed any help that she was only a holler away. As we sat in the clubhouse, eating our snack and keeping an eye on the exploring baby, I suddenly felt a little disturbed as I thought of my conversation with Star Gazer. Being compared to Rainbow Dash felt great, but…at the same time it bothered me, and I didn’t know why. As I continued eating I suddenly realized why. It was about a lesson that Rainbow Dash had taught me during the camping trip. She told me that I shouldn’t just walk behind her in her shadow, but that she wanted me to find my own way to stand out. It was a hard thing to explain. I wanted to be seen as just as amazing and cool as Rainbow Dash, so that being the case I enjoyed being compared to her. At the same time, however, I also wanted to be Scootaloo. It was just like Rainbow Dash told me. I wanted praise for being me, not to be dismissed by being compared to someone better. Now I see what she was talking about. It was alright for now, to walk in Rainbow Dash’s hoofsteps, but I couldn’t do it forever. If I ever wanted to be recognized as being great and grant her wish I would never do it by just imitating her. The way she talked, and the way she acted…that wasn’t really me. And even if it was, I couldn’t copy her perfectly because I just didn’t know enough. I had nearly flubbed the rescue because I wasn’t able to pull up properly, not being used to making such a sharp turn. It required totally shifting my momentum upward, going against gravity and straining my wings with a baby in my hooves. Although Rainbow Dash told me she knew I could do it and that was why she hadn’t interfered, things could have gone a lot worse if I hadn’t thought to take the injuries myself by flipping onto my back. “…loo? Scootaloo!” I heard a voice yelling in my ear. I shook my head, seeing Applebloom and Sweetie Belle looking worried. “Are ya okay?” “Oh, um…yeah. I’m okay. I was just thinking about the future.” “The future?” “Yeah.” I thought back to Rainbow Dash telling me that training would never end, because there was always another goal right beyond the one you just beat. “I can’t be happy with what I’ve done so far. I want to work even harder at my training. I only barely managed to rescue Rose Blossom from getting hurt, and I wound up having to get myself hurt to do it. That’s unacceptable. I mean, it’s okay because I’ve only just started learning to fly on a more advanced level, but I can’t just pat myself on the back because I got lucky. It’s like the first time I tried to do tricks on my scooter for Rainbow Dash. I was nervous and anxious and only managed to not crash and get hurt through dumb luck. But after practicing for a while I could do it because I wanted to.” Once more I pictured that image in my head of me being injured as a baby, and then I looked at Rose Blossom in front of me. “I couldn’t stand that. I couldn’t stand it if Rose Blossom or you guys got hurt because I wasn’t strong enough to protect you. Rainbow Dash may be the best flier and the coolest pony, but I’m not her and I can’t be her. Right now I want to take after her as much as I can, because I think it’s the fastest way to become stronger, but I can’t rely on her to fight my battles forever. I want to…I’m going to…” My breath stopped for a moment as doubt assaulted me. “I’m going to beat her!” I finally finished. “Beat Rainbow Dash?” Asked Sweetie Belle. “Yeah!” I responded, feeling a little more confident. “If I only walk behind her like I first tried to do, then no matter how fast I go I’ll only stand in her shadow and never be remembered. And no matter how fast I go, if I’m behind Rainbow Dash I’ll never beat her because she’ll always be in my way. I want to become special and cool in my own way and eventually come out from behind her shadow. Riding my scooter feels a lot more normal to me than flying, so maybe she was right when she told me it might be where my special talent lies. I kinda lied before. I don’t think we’ll get a cutie mark for this. I just wanted a way of spending more time with Rose Blossom. She’s the first pony I ever saved, and if I didn’t find a way now I didn’t know how long it would take before I could see her again. It makes me feel good knowing that I protected her, and so I want to keep looking out for her and keep her safe. Because…” My breath caught again as I tried not to cry. “Because if it wasn’t for ponies like my Grandmare and Rainbow Dash then I wouldn’t even be here right now. Every pony needs someone special to look up to, and I…I want to be that pony for Rose Blossom.” “Awwww!” Applebloom and Sweetie Belle said in unison. “That’s so adorable!” Sweetie Belle said. “If that’s what ya wanted then ya shoulda just said so.” Applebloom said. “Ya finally know how special it feels ta have an older sister, so now ya want ta pass it on an’ be a big sister yerself.” “Yeah!” I nodded. “Well, don’t forget that yer family ain’t the only ones on yer side.” She gave me a hug. “Yer friends will always be there for ya too.” “Yeah!” Sweetie Belle agreed, hugging me too. “And my sister and Applebloom’s sister, and Pinkie Pie and Twilight and Spike and Fluttershy! We’re all here for you if you ever need us to help.” I felt such happiness to have such great friends, but I didn’t have time to dwell on it because a cry of “Scootieloo!” caught my attention. As I looked down I saw Rose Blossom, sitting on her back legs with her hooves reaching out. She was probably getting jealous of the attention I was getting, and wanted to join in. I picked her up, holding her to me. I made a promise that even if it cost me my life I would do whatever it took to make sure she stayed safe and never had to deal with what I had to deal with. There was nothing to fear. My friends were right. I couldn’t do EVERYTHING on my own. That’s why all of them were important. If anything ever went wrong I could rely on them to help me out of it. And one day I knew I would surpass Rainbow Dash. I knew it was probably going to be many years before she considered me a challenge, but she had chosen me. No matter how long it took, or how many lessons I had to do, I would catch up to her one day, and I would beat her. Applejack brought over some blankets and pillows just in case Rose Blossom fell asleep, as we didn’t have anything suitable for a napping area in the clubhouse. Since she started getting bored pretty quickly we took her outside to let her explore. A few times she started flying around, like her mom said, but I could fly too, so it wasn’t too hard to keep her in line when she started trying to escape. Since I had my friends with me I wasn’t scared of flying in the air with her, because they would catch her if she lost control and I wasn’t able to catch her. The next few hours passed by with no major incidents…unless you count changing a messy diaper. Uck! I can’t imagine how parents can do that all the time. Eventually Star Gazer came back to all of us cuddled on the floor, half-asleep, with Rose Blossom napping. She thanked us for watching her child. She gave each of us some bits, and some cupcakes from Sugarcube Corner. As she picked up her daughter and went to leave I said quietly, ”Wait!” She turned back around. “Yes?” “Could I come over and play with her again sometime?” She gave me a warm smile. “Of course, Scootaloo. I could always use a foalsitter. And it looks like the three of you did wonderfully. I’d be happy to hire you again.” I could see the ecstatic looks on my friends faces, making me smile too. “Mmm. Let’s see. I could use you again in two days. I’m planning a dinner party for my friends, and my husband is also going to be busy that night. I thought I’d have to keep her and just grin and bear it if she started acting up, but if you’re interested I’d like her to stay with you again.” “Sure!” I said. “Great! I’ll meet you after school like I did today. Is that alright?” When I nodded she said, “Sounds good. I’ll see you then.” When she left I wasn’t surprised to see my friends explode into conversation about how their foalsitting cutie mark was certain to come soon and how they should start asking any ponies with kids if they needed a babysitter. I put my hooves out between both of them like I was trying to break up a fight, and said, “Slow it down, girls. I can’t be the only one who’s growing up here.” I could see the danger in their idea. “The reason we always seem to fail is because we push things too far and we can’t handle it. That’s why we failed at petsitting. We took too many pets and weren’t able to keep an eye on all of them. I know we all want our cutie marks quickly, but let’s just focus on Rose Blossom for now. If we can handle that a few times, then we can think about adding in more kids. It’s just like with my flying training. We started out with the easier stuff before moving onto the harder stuff. We can’t just be immature, impatient brats all the time if we want to become mature and get our cutie marks.” Their excitement seemed to deflate out of them as they sighed together. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Said Sweetie Belle. “Though I sure do hate to admit it.” Continued Applebloom. Then she smiled. “Well, listen ta you, Scootaloo. Talking like yer gettin’ too mature for us simple ponies.” I felt a small blush come to my face. Without even realizing it, I had spoken to them like an adult. So, not just my wings have gotten stronger, but my brain was starting to also. All the same, I didn’t want to seem like I felt I was better than them. “I didn’t mean it like that. I don’t want you guys to think-“ “I know, Scootaloo. Doesn’t stop ya from bein’ right. And it’s not like I’m fallin’ behind ya just ye-et. Just like you I’m getting stronger, so Applejack lets me help her buck apples now.” “And I’ve gotten a little better at sewing.” Said Sweetie Belle. “I spent one whole week just watching Rarity as she did her work, staying out of her way. With what I learned from paying attention and with a little bit of help from Rarity I made a simple dress. It was nothing special compared to her work, but at least it only had four legs this time.” We all shared a laugh as we remembered the talent show and how she had given our costumes a fifth leg. “AAAAAND! Watch this!” Her face screwed up in concentration. At first nothing happened except some sweat came down her face from her exertion, but then a small green glow came out of her horn, and our attendance pencil began floating upward a few feet. It stayed up for ten seconds, then the glow quickly faded and it fell to the ground. Sweetie Belle panted, wiping her brow. “Phew! I’m afraid I don’t have as much to show as you, Scootaloo. I’m still working on it. Magic is hard!” “Hey, don’t feel down. That was great. You’re still learning, after all. It’s slow, but each of us is indeed growing. We’re all heading to our destinies and our cutie marks, helped out by our sisters. As long as we all work together there’s nothing we can’t do!” I put my hoof out. With smiles they each put their hooves on top of mine. “Cutie Mark Crusaders growing up! YAY!” For the next few months my schedule was packed. Between going from home to home, school, flying lessons, crusader meetings, scooter practice, and foalsitting Rose Blossom, I barely had any time to myself to just rest and relax, but I didn’t regret any of it. For the most part, living in two houses actually was pretty simple. During the day, as captain of the weather team, Rainbow Dash was on cloud duty and overseeing the creation of the weather. I was usually in school during this time. After school, depending on when she finished up work and if she wanted a nap, I would go to her house. When I spent the night there she’d wake me up and take me to my grandmare’s house before heading to work. On weekends when there was no school I’d spend the days with my grandmare. It wasn’t nearly as complex as I assumed it would be, and I got to pretty much spend an equal amount of time with Rainbow Dash and my grandmare. When I jokingly asked my grandmare what she did with all her new free time, she answered me back in a joking manner that it meant more nap times for her, which made me laugh. One day I decided it was time for a real test of my abilities. I didn’t want to always wait around for Rainbow Dash or another pegasus to be around to go to her house. It was annoying. Rainbow Dash said it was for my own safety and she didn’t want me to get hurt trying to get to her house because I messed up along the way. Most of the pegasi were busy making clouds for a storm the following day, so I saw it as my perfect opportunity. The sun was bright in the sky, and there wasn’t a cloud in sight besides the one Rainbow Dash’s house sat on. No backup, no Rainbow Dash as a net in case something went wrong. In other words, it was all me. It was succeed or face the consequences. And it felt like the challenge I needed to improve my abilities, just like how it was her friend being in danger that pushed her to pull off the sonic rainboom. With a deep breath I unfurled my wings, reflecting on my lessons. Before a long flight, or pretty much any flight at your stage of development, always make sure to warm up your wings. This will also help to see if there is any tenderness or soreness before you get off the ground. I tensed my wings, then unclenched, doing it in sets for thirty seconds, before I started rotating them in their sockets for another thirty. My wings flowed smoothly in their movements. With a small jump to help me start I began flapping my wings. Even after your stretches give yourself a test run, as actually flying pushes your muscles harder than simple moving them around on the ground. I flew in gentle circles, mostly hovering a few feet off the ground. No strain. No pain. I was in good shape, and I was ready! I flapped my wings harder, seeing the ground slowly getting further away before I started taking measured breaths. Until you master flight always focus on your breathing. The vast majority of crashes for pegasi just learning to fly is mentally related. By focusing on your breathing you don’t get distracted by thoughts of messing up your wing rhythm or crashing, allowing you to focus your energy on the flight itself. I tended to match my breaths to the tempo of my wings. Of course my wings moved too fast for me to breathe in time with, but I set my breathing to every five flaps or so. Always know your limits and don’t overexert yourself. If you try to push past your limits you’ll get yourself hurt. I knew my limits pretty well. My homework had progressed to fifteen minutes of continuous hovering before I tired. And I knew from riding my scooter that my stamina would last longer pacing myself than giving it my all and holding nothing back. So I was taking my flight nice and slow. I could see Rainbow Dash’s house getting closer and closer, the smile on my face getting bigger and bigger. Who would have ever thought I would one day be doing all this on my own? A few months ago I sure didn’t. It had been about eight minutes when I suddenly felt a touch of nervousness. I was getting tired already…but I knew I could go longer than this. A stab of panic hit me, and I slapped my hoof to my head as I realized that in my careful calculations I had missed something totally obvious. I had been measuring the time for HOVERING alone, and I forgot to account that gaining height required me to flap my wings harder, and thus use up more energy. I shook my head hard, going back to focusing on my breathing, calming my racing heart and mind. Whatever happens…DO…NOT…PANIC! Panic and worry diminish your ability by half, both in your flying and in your ability to think calmly about your next move. It’s like the mental version of stunted wing. Only with a clear head will you be able to find your way through. After some deep breaths I freed myself of the fears trying to conquer me. I maintained my gentle ascension, knowing if I tried to rush my way up to the top I might exhaust myself in the process and then I’d go plummeting to the ground. I felt relief as I rose above the clouds and saw Rainbow Dash’s house. I rose above it for a bit, then tilted myself at a diagonal for my landing, no longer flapping. Just going on momentum alone. Just before I landed a strong breeze kicked up, my wings catching it and pushing me back and I missed the spot, now heading towards the ground again. I was quickly tiring, but I kept revisiting my lessons and planning my next move. My breathing was getting a little heavier, and I knew I was starting to run out of time, but I pushed those thoughts out of my head. I HAD to remain calm. Of course I could just head in the direction of the wind and glide down, but that would mean giving up. And I didn’t want to do that. I was so close! Although at first it seemed the exact opposite of what I should do, I headed further downward at an angle toward the other side of Rainbow’s cloud home. The wind is always stronger the higher you go. Trying to fight it directly will only further tire you out. That being the case, I had to hit it at an angle. I managed to make it past her home, pulling back up now as I turned around. Now, even though I felt at the end of my stamina, the breeze was working FOR me now, instead of against me. With the push from the wind I didn’t have to flap, just float along with the wind as I angled my body to go higher. With a soft flop I landed on the clouds of Rainbow’s home. I let out a happy whoop, cheering and hopping up and down. Another strong sudden breeze and this time I felt real panic as I hadn’t thought to fold my wings, and they worked against me this time as I flew backwards towards the edge of the clouds. It took all my energy, but I managed to close my wings. The breeze stopped just as soon as it came, and I found myself falling, nearly falling headfirst off the edge. My heart was racing and I put a hoof over my chest. With a blush on my face I turned myself back around onto my stomach and started crawling toward her house, not wanting to risk being pushed off into the air again. So much for my self-assured victory. I had nearly ruined it by celebrating too soon. Even though no one else was around to see it, I still felt mortified at nearly screwing up and having to be in such a humiliating position so I could be sure I got to her house safely. Rainbow Dash would be so ashamed. I opened her door, thankfully unlocked, and headed in, going to her room and laying on her bed. I didn’t feel quite as smug and proud of myself now. I had come this close to going over the edge, and without the strength to fly anymore I don’t know if I even would have been able to glide to the ground. I put my head down, just trying to get my breathing under control again. I closed my eyes, panting for a little while as I stretched my weary wings again before folding them back up. I don’t know if I fell asleep or not, but all I knew was that it seemed the next thing I knew Rainbow Dash was calling my name. I looked up at her. “Hi, Rainbow Dash.” I said, rubbing my eyes. She had a strange look on her face. “How did you get up here? I expected you to be hanging out with your friends until I came to get you. I don’t see a Twinkling balloon outside so did you get another pegasus to help you?” “Well, um…” Whoops! I hadn’t thought that far along in my grand plan. I decided to be honest. “I…I made it up here by myself.” Instantly her eyes narrowed, but she didn’t say anything as I went on. “I was tired of feeling helpless and reliant on you to get to my other house, so I wanted to see if I could get here without anypony else’s help.” I explained to her about how I had implemented all my lessons on my flight up. She waited until I was done talking, then walked up to me and gave me a solid whack on the head with her hoof. It barely hurt, but it sure got my attention quick. “Look, Scootaloo!” She said angrily. “I don’t know what you were thinking trying to do this all by yourself! You’re still in TRAINING! You’re not going to be an expert flier overnight. What if you HAD fallen off the edge when that breeze got you and weren’t able to right yourself in time? Do you have any idea how upset your Grandmare would be if I had to go to her and tell her that you were DEAD? DO YOU? This was an unnecessary risk that put your whole life in danger and I am VERY disappointed in you!” With that she left the room, not sparing me a second glance. Her words stung me to the depths of my core. And worse…she was absolutely right. I had put too much stock in my own abilities and nearly paid for it at the end. Tears came down my eyes as I let out little sobs. I sat there for a while thinking about my ride. I had done everything right…except for making sure I had someone ready to catch me if I fell. I wanted to push myself…but I had put myself in danger for it. And if something had gone wrong in my testing of myself, everyone else that I loved would have been the ones to pay the price. Even after the tears stopped I stayed on her bed, not knowing if I could face Rainbow Dash. How long passed? An hour? Two? It felt like a long time had passed when she came back into the room, her face neutral as she sat down next to me. “Well…?” She said when I didn’t say anything. “I’m sorry, Rainbow Dash.” I said regretfully. “I knew I was being naughty, but I thought that I would never improve if you were always there to hold my hoof if I screwed up. I thought if I put myself into a difficult situation I’d have to tough it out. I didn’t think of what would happen if I failed, because I didn’t think I would. I really just wanted to impress you. I don’t want to hurt anypony I love, so I won’t do something stupid like that again. I promise.” “Well, as long as you understand that…” Her face brightened. “Way to go, kid!” “Huh?” I said dumbly. “Look, I hate being the responsible one. It’s SOOOOOO boring having to give lectures, but you’re my little sis now so I have to! I’m still definitely NOT proud of you for doing something reckless like this, and you better not do it again, but I definitely AM proud that you remembered all your lessons and applied them on your journey. At least if you’re going to do something unsafe then you do it as safely as possible. Come here, you little knucklehead!” She grabbed, me rubbing her hoof hard on my head. “Q-quit it!” I said, trying to get away, but I was still laughing. She was still the same old Rainbow Dash. Never wanting to take anything seriously but doing it when she had to. She made me lunch, then made me give a detailed, in-depth account of my flight. I had told her the basics before but I had been nervous. She wanted to know everything from my thoughts and feelings during it to the flight itself. As I finished up I said, “I was sure patting myself on the back at the end, up until I nearly was knocked off by a stray gust of wind. Having to crawl back to the house to make sure it didn’t happen again sure made me realize I wasn’t as strong as I thought.” “Of course you’re not! And don’t give me that look. Kids like you always think you’re better than you are. Just because it’s ME teaching you, you think that it makes you special, but that’s not the case. You have a lot of work ahead of you. You think that just because you pulled off a simple flight like this correctly that your work is done? If you’re ever planning to get on my level you’re going to have to be more honest about your shortcomings or else you could wind up seriously injured or dead.” I could see that despite what she had said about not wanting to be too serious that she was still sore with me for what I had done. “I don’t have any excuses. What I did was wrong, and I already promised not to try it again until I get better at flying.” In a strangely emotional voice she put her wing over me and said, “You’re my little sister now, Scootaloo, and I wouldn’t want to see that happen to you. All that work on training you would be a waste of my time.” Even I could tell that ‘wasting her time’ was just an excuse. She was scared to lose me, but she had trouble expressing those feelings openly. “I’m sorry.” I said, now feeling really bad again. As we had lived together, I began to see more of Rainbow Dash. And I don’t just mean that literally. I mean that I began to see her as a pony instead of just a legend. I could see that she wasn’t perfect, and had fears and doubts and flaws just like anypony else. I could start to see the things she hid behind her invincible attitude. Things like she would never have disliked me for having stunted wing, because she wouldn’t dismiss a pony with a disability who honestly COULDN’T do things other ponies could do. And that even after getting into an excitable mood she had dropped back to big sister mode, which made me see that I had hurt her and frightened her, and probably made her wonder what reckless thing I would try next to test myself. I had tried to hurry the process along and take a shortcut, and very nearly paid for it. I should have realized that if I wanted to make it to Rainbow Dash’s level that I should have just trusted her instead of trying to find a different way. “Scootaloo, you’ve got the potential, you’ve got the drive, you’ve got the attitude…but what you don’t have and desperately need is experience. Only experience will help you get to where you need to be. The more you fly and try out new things, the more skill you will gain. The more you will know what do in an unexpected situation. It’s not something that can be rushed. There is no shortcut. There is no easier path. The only way you’re ever going to be truly great is through practice, practice, and more practice. That’s the way I got to the level that I’m at. You know, I may constantly boast about how I’m the greatest flier ever, but do I always think so? Definitely not. Do I think there are other fliers or athletes out there who are even better than me? Welllllll…not at the moment.” Her gaze lingered on me for a few moments, a twinkle in her eye and a sly smile on her face, before she continued. I blushed at what she was implying, smiling back at her. “The thing is, your mind is ever more important than your body in terms of ability. If you think you are weak, then your body responds. That’s why I told you back then that I used to have stunted wing. So that’d you believe you’d be okay. And the opposite is also true. If you believe you are strong and can handle anything, it won’t make you invincible, but it certainly helps. That’s why I always psych myself up, to try and make myself feel strong so I don’t falter. And, well, sometimes that can lead to OVER-confidence. One time I let my abilities go so far to my head that I became arrogant. After helping save a couple of ponies I started craving praise and attention, forgetting the reason I was trying to help people in the first place. It got so bad that my friends put on a big performance to humble me, pretending that a new, better mare wearing a mask was out to steal my show. In the end, I was trying to get praise for opening a jar of peanut butter.” She let out an awkward laugh at the memory. “When I found out that it was only them behind the mask, I realized just how far over the line I’d allowed myself to go. I had gotten such a bloated ego that I did stupid things, like taking time to boast before I actually rescued anyone, signing autographs because I knew I still had time, or giving everyone an introduction. “What I’m trying to say, Scootaloo, is that I don’t want you to make my mistakes. You have to think, and I mean really THINK(she gave my head another small smack with her hoof) about how your actions can hurt others. Because your life is not just yours. A part of it belongs to each of the people in your lives who care for you. Can you imagine what would happen if the Cutie Mark Crusaders lost a member, and how your friends would react? Or your grandmare? Or even our connected friends like Applejack and Rarity? It causes a ripple effect. Even if they don’t know you as well as I do, they will still share the hurt me and your friends will receive, because to see their loved ones hurting is the same as being hurt themselves. “I…I…” She hesitated, then sighed. “Okay, fine. I’ll say it. I love you, Scootaloo! Alright? I love you, and I don’t want to see you get hurt. That would hurt me so much, because I was an only child, and I like having a kid sister to look after and teach. I like helping to shape your life and give you the power to make your make your dreams come true. If I lost you I don’t know what I would do. So you need to stay safe for me, okay?” I thought a heard a sniff from her, but I refused to look up at her face. I didn’t want to embarrass her if she was crying. I knew that she hated being seen as emotional. I understood what she was saying. It was something I had already mostly thought of when she had left me alone, but she needed to say it just in case I didn’t get it. “Okay, Rainbow Dash. I’ll be smarter from now on. And I love you, too! You’re the best sister a filly could ask for.” I moved my wing onto her back as well. She had opened up with a lot of things she normally wouldn’t say to make sure she got through to me, and I appreciated it. “I’m glad. I don’t want to have to repeat myself. Now it’s almost time for my afternoon nap, so I’m going to head down and get my tanning chair. You coming?” “Yeah!” I said. She grabbed two chairs, and flew towards the surface, me right behind her. THIS was simple enough. Heading down was a lot easier than going up. Since her house was pretty high up and I had my ‘safety net’ in case something went wrong, I decided to try some tricks, spinning and twirling. She laughed as she saw me. “Is that all you got, kid? You’re lucky I’m tired and holding chairs, or I’d show you some real tricks.” I laughed back. “I’m tired too, you know.” When we landed near the swimming hole she set up the chairs, throwing me a pair of shades as I sat down. I closed my eyes, putting my hooves behind my head and enjoying the warmth of the sun as I closed my eyes, letting myself drift off to dreams of racing against Rainbow Dash. After I woke up from my nap I saw Rainbow Dash was already up. I told her I would meet her later, and went to my grandmare’s house. I wanted to tell her about the lesson I learned, but she didn’t answer my calls. I thought it was a little strange. Where would she have gone? I looked in her room, and I saw a shape under the covers on her bed. I let out a little laugh. She was just taking a nap like I was. I thought of just letting her sleep, but I felt impatient. Going by her side of the bed I called her name while gently pushing her, but she didn’t respond. She could sometimes be a heavy sleeper. “Grandmare! Grandmare! Wake up!” I paused for a moment, letting out a little sigh. I guess I would just have to wait. Now that I was just looking at her something felt wrong. And as I continued staring…I saw just what it was. The blanket wasn’t moving with her breathing. SHE…wasn’t breathing. I felt a chill go down my back, my own breathing going up. My breath came in little jerks, and I shook her hard. “Grandmare. Grandmare! Grandmare! Wake up!” Tears started coming down my eyes, blurring my vision. “GRANDMARE! GRANDMARE! Please! Please! Not now…not now…” I said in a small voice. I felt that same body clenching sensation I had when I had first been told my stunted wing was going to be permanent. I crawled up onto the bed next to her, still trying to wake her. She didn’t move…didn’t react. And then I buried my face in her mane and began sobbing. Why now? WHY NOW? She had been with me through so much! I wanted her to see me grow up! I wanted her to see me become an amazing flier! So why now? Why did she have to leave me now? It wasn’t fair! It’s not fair! ***** Rainbow Dash flew around impatiently. Where was that Scootaloo? It was almost nighttime. She had to guess that Scootaloo had just decided to sleep at her grandmare’s house that night. ‘But still…’ She thought, a frown on her face. ‘It would have been nice for her to let me know so I wasn’t waiting around here like an idiot.’ Scootaloo knew where to go to wait for her, so it wasn’t like she could get lost. She waited another twenty minutes, when the last of the sun’s rays were fading, to give it up and head home, feeling annoyed at her protégé’s thoughtlessness. ***** Where was I? I guess time had passed. But for me it felt like forever and no time at all. One second it was light, the next it was dark. So dark. Too dark to see anything. Then it was light again. *** Rainbow Dash had just finished up her work for the day, ready to veg out and take her afternoon nap, when a voice called out to her. “Rainbow Dash!” Came the drawl of Applebloom. Suppressing a yawn she said, “Yeah? What it is, girls?” Sweetie Belle asked, “Have you seen Scootaloo? We’re supposed to be having a big group picnic today with everyone.” With a flash of annoyance she said, “No! That jerk. She stood me up yesterday, telling me she was going to sleep at my house and then never showed up, leaving me waiting for nothing.” “I wonder if she’s sick. She wasn’t in school today.” A touch of worry penetrated her mind. Usually punctual Scootaloo never showed up last night, then never went to school. She shook her head, dismissing her feelings. She was probably just sick, like Sweetie Belle said. “Did you try her house?” “Yeah, but nopony answered. That’s why we came looking for you.” The worry returned, a little stronger this time, and she wasn’t able to dismiss it so easily as before. “Look, girls. I’ll go have a look around for her. If I find her and she’s okay then I’ll send her to your clubhouse, okay?” “Okay. Thank ya, Rainbow Dash.” Applebloom replied. “Yeah. Thanks.” Said Sweetie Belle, and the two fillies ran off. Rainbow Dash did a quick sweep around Ponyville, but it was too large of a place to investigate herself. She quickly decided to just check the most obvious place. She flew to Scootaloo’s house, banging her hoof on the door. “Scootaloo! Scootaloo!” Another few bangs. “Are you in there? It’s Rainbow Dash!” Rainbow Dash didn’t hear anything inside, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. If that wasn’t the case, then she could get snapped at for coming in uninvited and beat herself up later for being paranoid. She pushed the door open, seeing no one. She closed the door behind her as she continued calling out for Scootaloo. She looked in Scootaloo’s room, the kitchen, still seeing and hearing nothing. Finally she came upon the last room. The door was open, and as she looked in the room she knew that it belonged to Scootaloo’s grandmare. She felt simultaneous relief and frustrations as she noticed Scootaloo laying down on a bed with something big looking under a blanket. “Scootaloo!” She snapped. She knew the filly wasn’t sleeping. She wasn’t that heavy of a sleeper. “HEY! I’m talking to you.” She walked further into the room when Scootaloo didn’t so much as twitch. “SCOOT-A-LOO!” She said louder and slowly, getting increasingly annoyed. She didn’t like being ignored, and it wasn’t like Scootaloo to do so. Finally losing her temper she went over and ripped the blanket off, and all her anger disappeared as she took in the filly’s eyes. Scootaloo had a totally dead look in her eyes. There was no life there. Though she hadn’t seen faces like that before, she instantly recognized them. They were the eye of someone who had completely given up. She turned her gaze to Peach Cobbler, and saw that she was still as death, unmoving. Rainbow Dash had never seen a dead pony. She had never been in a situation like this before, and for one of the few times in her life…she didn’t know what to do. She just stood there, shell shocked, and her eyes met Scootaloo’s again. Every once in a while the filly would blink, but beyond that and the very slight movements of her body as she breathed, she seemed almost as dead as her grandmare. ‘What do I do? What do I do?’ Rainbow Dash was almost in a state of panic. Her breathing was heavy. Shoot, her body felt heavy. What in the world had happened? Instinct took over, and she closed her eyes, focusing on her breathing to calm herself just as she had taught Scootaloo. When she calmed down a bit rational thought began returning. ‘Have to get a doctor.’ She ran outside, intending to yell to get other ponies attention, when she saw Twilight and Fluttershy walk by, each of them with bird feeders they were going to set up for the birds around town.. She felt relieved, and run up to them. “Girls!” The two of them turned around. “Oh, hi, Rainbow Dash.” Said Twilight, though her cheerful tone dropped immediately from the look on Rainbow’s face. “What’s wrong?” “Twilight, we need a doctor, nurse, WHATEVER…NOW!” “What happened?” “I just went to Scootaloo’s house, and…and…I think she’s dead!” “WHAT!” Both of them yelled, dropping the bird feeders. “Scootaloo’s DEAD?” Asked Twilight. After a moment of confusion Rainbow snapped, “No! Not Scootaloo. Her grandmare. Just…Fluttershy. Go get a doctor here right away. Twilight, come with me.” They both nodded, Fluttershy running off. Twilight’s heart was starting to race as she entered the house. She had never attended a funeral either, but she was at least more prepared for what she was about to see. She put a hoof over her mouth as she entered the room, stifling a gasp. “What’s wrong with her?” Asked Rainbow Dash. “Why are you asking me?” Twilight asked as she saw Scootaloo’s eyes, hopeless and broken. “Well, you’re the egghead who’s read like every book ever written. You telling me you haven’t seen something like this in one of your millions of books?” Twilight didn’t answer, walking up to Scootaloo and Peach Cobbler. She put a hoof on Scootaloo, gently shaking her while calling her name. Like before, there was absolutely no reaction from her, like she hadn’t even noticed. “I’m sorry, Rainbow Dash. I have read a LOT of books, but medical knowledge isn’t my strong suit. And without knowing what happened it’s hard to speculate on why Scootaloo is like this now. It could have been some kind of attack, it could be a spell that went wrong. There’s too many possibilities to narrow it down with the little information we have.” She forced herself to focus on Peach Cobbler. Her face was calm and relaxed, making an attack seem unlikely. Adding to that theory, she couldn’t see anything wrong. At least on the outside. There didn’t appear to be any injuries. If it wasn’t for the fact that she wasn’t moving, Twilight would have thought she was only sleeping. She decided to just leave things to the doctors when they arrived. She certainly wasn’t going to be able to make a diagnosis with her limited knowledge. If it came down to a magical attack by a unicorn with bad intentions then she would step up to stop them, but at current there was nothing she could do. It seemed to take forever for the hospital workers to arrive. They put Peach Cobbler and Scootaloo in stretchers, wheeling them out and taking them to the hospital. As Rainbow Dash and Twilight ran behind the cart transporting the two, they suddenly heard voices calling them. Rainbow Dash saw it was the fillies again, this time with their sisters and Pinkie Pie. She looked after the cart for a few moments more, but she knew where it was going. She had some time. It seemed appropriate to tell them the truth. If not, they would be thinking the worst from them following the ambulance. She stopped, telling all of them to follow them to the hospital. She could see they were worried, but she didn’t know much more than them. When they got to the waiting room they were told that both Scootaloo and Peach Cobbler were being examined. It didn’t take long for the nurse to call them in, and the group followed the nurse into Scootaloo’s room. The filly still had that blank look on her face as she sat on her bed. “My name is nurse Redheart. Although I haven’t seen her often, I remember Scootaloo and her grandmare from a long time ago, so I thought I would be the best one to…to talk to you about what’s going on.” “What is it?” Asked Rainbow Dash, flying up right next to the nurse. “Was it an attack? Is she dying? What’s is it?” With each question she got a little more in the nurses face. Nurse Redheart backed up a step. “Peach Cobbler is dead. Our examination shows that she died peacefully in her sleep. At her age it’s not surprising.” “And what about Scootaloo?” Asked Rainbow Dash, closing the distance again. She backed up another step, saying, “It appears to be plain old shock.” “Shock?” “It’s like she’s asleep while being awake.” Remarked Twilight. “That…is one way of putting it.” Said the nurse. “When a sudden serious traumatic experience happens, like the death of a loved one, sometimes the pony cannot handle the experience. Thus, right now she has locked herself away so she doesn’t have to deal with it. She’s basically in a catatonic state. She may very well hear everything we’re saying, but she’s not in a fit state of mind to respond to it or process it.” “Great.” Said Rainbow Dash. “So when does she come out of it?” “There’s no telling. It depends on the pony. It may be a few hours, a few days, months, years, and, in the most extreme cases…never.” “Never? NEVER?” Rainbow Dash once again closed the distance between them so their faces were just an inch apart. “What do you MEAN ‘never?’ You’re doctors for ponies sake. Isn’t this part of your job to help out? You want to tell me you can’t do anything for her?” This time Nurse Redheart stood her ground. “I understand your frustration, but doctors and nurses are only suited to help with physical injuries. Emotional memories are beyond are ability to cure.” “Then what good are you? You’re completely useless!” “Rainbow Dash!” Twilight said strongly. “That’s enough.” Her horn glowing, she pulled her friend backwards. “I’m sorry about that.” “No need to apologize. It’s part of the job to be attacked whenever we cannot fix something. We doctors and nurses do all that we can, but we cannot cure everything. The most we can do is provide her a safe place to stay. What she needs the most now is just to have her friends stay by her side to help her through this. “If there’s anything you need, or if her condition changes, either for the worse or the better, please let us know.” With that she took her leave. Rainbow Dash sat in a chair, turning to Twilight with an idea plastered on her face. “Hey, Twilight. You’re one of the most skilled unicorns out there besides the princesses. Can’t you use your magic to help her, like that memory spell you used to get rid of Discord’s influence on us?” A look of distaste crossed Twilight’s features. “You want me to manipulate her memory? And just what would you like me to change? Making her forget her grandmare is dead? Or just making her forget her grandmare existed altogether?” “Hey! I’m not saying I want to destroy her memories. She told me she was heading to her grandmare’s yesterday, so she was probably trying to deal with this all alone for almost a whole day. It’s no wonder she couldn’t handle it. If we make her forget about the death, then she can experience it with all the people who love her here, so she won’t go into shock again.” “I understand what you’re saying, but it’s not a guarantee that she WON’T go into shock just because we’re around, and if that’s the case all we’ll have accomplished is making her relive the pain of loss for nothing. I’m sorry, but even if it was guaranteed she’d be fine I wouldn’t want to do it. Forcing mind manipulation for this goes against my morals.” “So then you’re just going to do nothing?” “I’m GOING to do what the nurse told us to do: Be there for her if she needs us.” “ARRGHH!” Rainbow yelled angrily, kicking a tray and knocking it over. “That’s not good enough.” “It’s going to have to be. These sort of things take time to heal. And I don’t know what the result would be if I tried to force my way into her mind. Keep in mind, I didn’t actually change any of your memories. Discord implanted fake memories into all to you get you to act in opposition to your natural element. All I did was push those fake memories aside and brought back your own memories. And even if I could manipulate things, it would mean going down a dark path. Where would it stop? Just because I can do a spell doesn’t mean I should. I have to practice restraint so that I don’t abuse my powers, or else I’d be no better than Discord.” “Whatever!” Said Rainbow Dash, crossing her hooves. “I… I just can’t stand it! Scootaloo has been working her tail off for the sake of accomplishing the goal dearest to her heart. We’re alike in so many ways, and I just can’t take seeing her like this. I’m supposed to be her big sister, but all I can do is sit and wait. I’m supposed to protect her, but I can’t do anything to help her!” Before she could think to stop them, she felt tears coming down her eyes. Fluttershy walked over, giving Rainbow a nuzzle and wiping her few tears away. “Oh, Rainbow Dash. You’re wrong. Just being here for her is doing something. The same way that when I’m around you I don’t feel as afraid as I usually do.” “Yeah.” Said Pinkie Pie halfheartedly. Her mane was a little slumped, threatening to fall down entirely. She actually felt closer to Rainbow Dash’s feelings than the others. Her specialty was throwing parties and cheering other ponies up, but what was she supposed to do with Scootaloo in the condition she was in? And even Pinkie Pie knew that death was not something that parties and laughter would fix, so she felt all but useless here. Twilight walked up to Rainbow Dash too. “I know you feel upset over this, Rainbow Dash. I’d feel the same way if anything happened to you, but Scootaloo needs you right now. No one else can help her like you can.” “You just said I’m supposed to sit and wait. Now you’re saying I’m the only one who can help her?” Said Rainbow Dash. “Yes, Darling.” Said Rarity. “It’s not something you have to think about. It’s instinct. If you’ll observe.” Rarity gestured to Sweetie Belle and Applebloom. “As you can see, both of our little sisters came to sit on our laps automatically, knowing it was the best place to be to seek out comfort. And we, just as automatically, started rubbing their backs in an attempt to keep them calm.” “But yer different from us.” Said Applejack. “Yer not a big fan of sappiness. You believe in confidence and toughness above most things.” “Gee.” Rainbow Dash said dully. “You make me sound almost like a machine.” “No, Rainbow Dash.” Said Twilight. “What they mean, or at least what I think they mean, is that the same method won’t work on Scootaloo. While I’m sure you may drop your guard around Scootaloo from time to time, in her state she’s not able to think about the softer side of you. You’re sitting here, losing your cool and crying, which goes against everything you put into your public persona. The Rainbow Dash that usually goes around town is a top-notch flier, who constantly pumps herself up and sends off an aura of confidence. You’re not showing that right now, so how is Scootaloo supposed to accept the reality of the situation if the Rainbow Dash she knows isn’t being real?” “Yer not explaining it good, Twilight.” Said Applejack. “The thing is, as the older ones, we sometimes have to put our own emotions on hold fer the sake of our siblings. As the biggest example, after me and Applebloom’s parents died the both of us were torn up inside. We both shared cries and sadness but, over time, as the older sister, I knew that Applebloom wasn’t as emotionally strong as I was, so I had to be the strong one and act like I was fine so that she wouldn’t be as worried or scared. How was she supposed to come to me fer help if she thought I was feeling exactly the same way she was? “Even if you weren’t the toughest pony around Scootaloo would still be looking to ya fer strength and guidance. So you need to calm down so that you kin help her break out of the shell she’s put herself into.” Rainbow Dash considered all that her friends were telling her. “I get what you’re telling me, but I’ve never had to deal with something like this before. What…just because I’m tough does that mean I can’t ever show a moment of weakness?” “Of course you can, Rainbow.” Said Rarity. “We all understand that you need some time, but out of all of us here, you’re simply the best one who has a chance of getting through to her, considering she looks up to you the most. We’re all here with you, too, so you take as long as you need to compose yourself.” Rainbow Dash looked at Scootaloo, at the empty nothingness that showed on her features. Doing nothing…doing nothing and waiting was unacceptable to her. She was a pony of action, not a wimp to just sit idly by while others needed her help. That was why she helped to save others whenever she saw them in danger. And Scootaloo clearly was in danger. Maybe not physically, but she was clearly on the brink of losing herself and giving up on everything she had fought for over the past year. And…as both a friend and a sister…she refused to let that happen. “I need to be the strong one for her.” She said to herself. “I am needed here, and I can’t help her by being weak.” She closed her eyes, and begin breathing in and out in measured intervals, something she had taught Scootaloo to do to calm herself. She had hardly seen the need to use it since she was incredibly comfortable in the sky. Little by little, she felt her raging emotions begin to ebb, felt like she was becoming herself again. And, when she finally opened her eyes, there was a determined look in her face. “Thanks, you guys.” Her friends all told her it was no problem. She stood up, walking over to the bed Scootaloo was sitting on. She raised her hoof, and gave the filly a hard smack on the head. As usual there was no reaction, like she didn’t feel it. “Hey! I’m not going to keep taking this forever! You think you’re just going to sit in your bed and give up like a quitter? That’s not what I spent all this time on you for! You still have a long way to go, and you better believe I’m not going to allow you to make excuses. You’re GOING to be at your flying lesson tomorrow if I have to drag you out of this bed and throw you off a cliff. YOU UNDERSTAND ME? I will NOT be ignored by you, you lazy brat!” At first, there was no reaction. Scootaloo naturally blinked, but then suddenly blinked again quickly. Then her eyes moved slightly toward the voice. “Yeah, that’s right! You better not ignore me! Flying lesson, tomorrow! Same time! Same place! You got that!” Rainbow went to say more, but she was stopped by a clear reaction from her little protégé. A tear came down Scootaloo’s eye, like she was actually beginning to hear her. There was the faintest trace of life in her eyes. It was working. She just had to keep pushing. “I’m not going to keep wasting my breath on a wimp like you. If you give up here then it only means you were never worth my time to start with!” With that she returned to her seat, crossing her hooves and huffing. All the rest of them were staring at Rainbow Dash, talking like a drill instructor, and wondering if she was maybe going a little too far. When Rainbow Dash glanced back over at Scootaloo, she saw that a second tear had joined the first, and the filly’s eyes were still on her, despite her moving. Something of what she was saying was getting into the child’s head, and it seemed she had finally entered the child’s vision to an extent. She tested it out, moving to different places around the room. Every time she looked over at Scootaloo, she could see the child’s eyes looking into hers. It actually felt a little creepy in a way, as besides the movement of her eyes she was still except for the natural movements of her chest as she breathed. As Rainbow Dash tried to think of some more things to say she suddenly felt like a lightning bolt had gone through her. Smacking a hoof to her head, she said, “I can’t believe I forgot!” “Forgot what?” Asked Twilight. “Peach Cobbler! She left me a note to give to Scootaloo in case anything ever happened to her. I don’t know what’s in it, but if anything can get through to Scootaloo it would be the last words of her grandmare.” “Yeah. That just might work.” “It’s at my house. I’ll be right back. Keep looking after her for me until I get back.” As Rainbow Dash started to leave the room she was stopped by a noise, almost so quiet she missed it, but one that caught her attention completely like it had been deafening. She turned around, and she could see everyone was looking at Scootaloo. Like before the child’s eyes were looking at her, more tears coming down her eyes. “I’m sorry kid. I’ll be right back, I promise.” She felt guilty, even if she was doing what was necessary. As she slowly tried to leave the room she was stopped again by the same noise. Her head turned around, she tried to keep walking out of the room, but she couldn’t. She felt her heart breaking as she saw the tears pouring down her sister’s face, seeing her make noises like an infant as she strained with all her might to talk, to tell her to stay even without words. It only made it more clear that Scootaloo was still conscious to a degree. She had some awareness of her surroundings even if she was still out of it. This whole situation was caused by the loss of someone she loved. Snapping at Scootaloo had been what had slowly been getting her attention. What if leaving caused her to shut herself away again? What if she couldn’t get through to Scootaloo a second time, and that was enough to break her spirit for good? She’d never be able to forgive herself if that was the case. Giving it up, she went and sat down on the bed next to Scootaloo. It became quiet again. She felt certain that whatever her grandmare had left her in her final words would help Scootaloo, but she couldn’t leave. She smacked her head again, as she realized something so obvious it escaped her attention. “Fluttershy!” “Huh?” She responded with a jump from the sudden loudness. “W-what is it, Rainbow Dash?” “You’re a pegasus too. Why don’t you go to my house and get the letter?” “Oh! Um, well…I don’t know if I can make it. You know I’m not that good of a flier.” “Fluttershy, this is important! You’ve shown to be a good flier when your friend’s lives are in danger. Well, doesn’t Scootaloo qualify?” “Oh, yes, but, um…” Twilight stepped between them, feeling like this was going to go nowhere. “Fluttershy, you can glide pretty easily, right?” “Yessssss…” “So how about this? I’ll teleport you up to her house and get the hard part out of the way. Then all you need to do is glide down to the ground. Simple. And if you get scared coming down and your wings lock up like they do sometimes I’ll use my magic to bring you safely to the ground. That sound fair?” “Um…” She looked at Scootaloo, sighed, then turned to Twilight and nodded. “I’ll do it.” “It’s in the middle of the very first Daring Do book that Twilight gave me.” “Gotcha.” Twilight and Fluttershy left the hospital, promising to return soon. Rainbow Dash pulled Scootaloo onto her lap and began rubbing her back like she had seen her friends do. In her mind she was wondering, ‘Is that what they really think of me? I can be comforting too…can’t I?’ She knew that she usually played it up like she needed no one and was the strongest pony in town, but she wasn’t a pony who only ever felt that way, and she needed her friends just as much as they needed her. She suddenly shook her head. She knew she was getting too far into herself, and losing her focus on Scootaloo. There would be time to talk to them about that later. Right now she had to keep her attention on Scootaloo. She could have sworn, as she continued her gentle rubbing, that Scootaloo snuggled in closer to her. Ten minutes passed before Twilight and Fluttershy returned. “We got it!” Said Twilight. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but it was still pretty scary.” Out of her saddlebag she pulled out an envelope. “Here you go, Rainbow Dash.” As Rainbow Dash took it she began opening it up. She considered that ordinarily she never would have done this. Even as close as they were, she still felt it was incredibly rude to go reading out a personal letter that she had no involvement in, nevermind in front of all her friends, but current circumstances wouldn’t allow her to simply not do it. After ripping open the seal letter she unfolded the pieces of paper inside, finding the start. Clearing her throat she began reading: “Dear Scootaloo, it’s your grandmare Peach Cobbler here. If you’re reading this then it means I am dead and that Rainbow Dash has given you the letter I told her to hold onto in case anything happened to me. “Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about life. More specifically, the end of my life. It’s just something that comes with age. You begin to think about what you’ve accomplished and what you left unfinished. You think about how each day is a gift to be enjoyed with those you love and care for. Even though the doctors tell me I’m healthy for my age, I know my end is going to come sooner or later, and I feel now that I’m prepared for that inevitable moment. I was so scared of dying before, because I didn’t know what was to become of you. However, now I know I have nothing to be scared of. You have a whole bunch of friends now, and Rainbow Dash showed she was willing to take you in. And now you’re flying like a little champion, even saving a life. It couldn’t make me happier.” Rainbow stopped for a moment, feeling Scootaloo shaking ever so slightly on her lap. Tears were coming down her eyes again. She started making those same baby-sounding noises like before, and Rainbow Dash could see that she should continue. “When I asked Rainbow Dash to take you in, and you came back to me wondering if that meant I didn’t want you anymore, it nearly broke my heart. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love you and what you mean to me. Although, maybe that’s to be expected, considering I didn’t tell you a lot about my past. Sometimes…growing to old age can be cruel. The longer you live the more friends and connections you make with others. The cost of that love is pain. One by one, I lost my friends and family. I attended numerous funerals, but each time I bounced back, because of the people I still had left. Until one day, all I had left was my husband and my daughter. And then I lost him too in an accident at the construction yard. I kept myself together for her sake, as she was only about your age at the time. For the longest time I didn’t want to get involved with anyone else, putting my all into caring for my daughter. “I watched her grow up happy, even without a father in her life. I got good news after good news. She had found a good stallion. She was getting married. She had a fantastic honeymoon. And then the greatest news of all. She was pregnant. I was going to get my first grandchild. I couldn’t be happier. I paid for a fancy trip for the two of them to celebrate. And…they never came home. There was another accident, and all of them died.” Rainbow Dash took a deep breath, having to stop for a moment. Taking a quick look around she could see all of them were crying slightly like her. She had never had got the impression that Peach Cobbler was so hurt inside. She knew herself that one day she’d either lose her friends, or her friends would lose her. Pain is the eventually price of love. That was so correct. Mentally preparing herself she continued on. “It was the most devastating day of my life. It was the day I thought my heart was broken for good. I was left all alone with nobody to care about if I was alive or dead. Really, I felt like I was already dead. I couldn’t sleep properly, and I just went through life for the next month without really paying attention to anything. Somehow, though, I was still alive. I guess I had been taking care of myself in some way, though I don’t remember any of it. “I probably would have left this life full of hurt and regrets, continuing to live a meaningless existence, if it wasn’t for a certain walk I took in the middle of the night. “Since I couldn’t sleep at night, I had taken to nighttime walks. It felt better that way. It would be dark like the feeling in my heart. I wouldn’t have to worry about ponies asking me if I was okay. I had no interest in interacting with others and risking being hurt again. Until one fateful night when I noticed what looked like a pegasus sleeping near the forest. At first I was going to ignore them, but as I got closer I could see that it looked like an infant. “I went to investigate, and I saw an injured baby, her wings sticking out at crooked angles and unconscious. I got her help. I know I’ve told you this story of how I found you so many times, but I want you to understand how important it was for me and my life. From the first time I saw you cry after waking up in the hospital, you awakened my natural motherly instincts. I just had to hold you and comfort you. As I held you to me and you began settling down…from that first moment I knew. I knew I didn’t want to let you go. I went to visit you every day, because I finally felt like I was needed again. Little by little you wormed her way into my heart, freeing me from the black clouds covering my heart and releasing the love I had locked away.” Ordinarily Rainbow Dash would have been put-off by such a sappy line, but even she couldn’t find any fault in it. It just made so clear how much she had loved Scootaloo. “When the day came where you could go home, and still nobody had come forward to claim you, I was asked if I wanted to adopt you. Otherwise, you would have been sent to an orphanage. At first I was hesitant. I was scared of losing you. I was scared of what would happen to you if I died since you were still in recovery. But, as I looked at you, and you started playing peek-a-boo with me…I just knew that I didn’t have any choice in the matter. Not taking you in would have destroyed me. I couldn’t imagine a life that didn’t involve you. You finally opened up my life again, and I decided to do all I could to return the favor. “You gave meaning to my life again. Each day I took care of you felt like another step toward happiness and the sunny life I had lived before. I raised you as my own grandchild, part of me imagining you were the special grandbaby that I had never gotten to see from my daughter. I watched you grow from a helpless baby into a strong, sometimes headstrong, filly. I watched you make some important friends, who understood your pain of lacking a cutie mark and resolved to work together no matter what. I watched you struggle with your stunted wing, and overcome it with the help of a certain blue pegasus. “There will be many struggles and difficulties in the days and years to come, but I truly believe that you can handle anything that comes your way. You’ve got the heart of a champion inside you. I just know that one day, whether it be with your wings or your scooter, that you’ll become an athlete known the world over. So…no matter what…” Rainbow Dash smirked as she read the rest of the line in her mind, and continued in an excited voice, “…you better make sure you beat that Rainbow Dash and show her what you’re really made of! I have the utmost confidence that one day you’ll surpass her in every way and make all your dreams come true. And nothing could make me prouder of you than that.” Scootaloo began shaking in Rainbow’s lap, her breathing starting to get shorter and shorter, and then like a volcano seemed to suddenly erupt into tears, sobbing her heart out as the story of her grandmare’s past and how it related to why she was so important, of believing in her even unto her death, finally got through to her. It built up and up and up until she just couldn’t contain it inside. She buried her head in Rainbow Dash’s chest, and Rainbow just held her back, a half-smile on her lips. She was glad that Scootaloo seemed to have regained her consciousness, but Scootaloo had still lost her most treasured family member. Applebloom and Sweetie Belle each hopped off their sisters laps, jumping onto the bed with their friend and hugging her, tears streaming down their eyes as well. It took some time for all of them to settle down. When Scootaloo finally looked back up at Rainbow Dash, this time she couldn’t suppress a real smile as she saw that, though they were sad and red from crying, her sisters eyes had regained their light. “Rainbow Dash…” Scootaloo started. “Yes, squirt?” “Can…can you keep going? Is there more?” “A little bit. Umm, let’s see…” She picked up the letter again, starting from the previous line. “And nothing could make me prouder of you than that. Even Rainbow Dash herself would wish that for you as your sister, although she probably wouldn’t want that as a competitor. But given how she plays herself up as the best flier in Equestria, maybe she needs a good rival to show her who’s boss.” She stopped reading. “Your grandmare has really high hopes for you, kid. You better live up to them. Like I told you before I don’t ever let myself get lazy, but I sure could use a rival who’s worth my time. A certain orange-maned, purple haired pegasus. I suppose if you ever managed to beat me it would make me work just that much harder to never let it happen again. Ponies grow by leaps and bounds when chasing after a rival with all their heart.” “I’ll do my best. No…better than my best!” Her spirit quickly left her as she nudged Rainbow Dash, who got the message. “Above all else, don’t you EVER EVER NEVER quit! You have so much potential inside of you that even the best flier around saw fit to personally train you and make you her sister. Work hard, become stronger, go through life with your head held high and live a life of joy. Don’t ever live a life that will leave you full of regrets. And, most important of all, don’t let death be the end. I may be gone, but I’ll still always live on inside of you in your heart, unforgotten. No matter how hard things get, you must keep pushing ahead. When I was on the brink of giving up, you came along and showed me that my life could still go on. You’ll make plenty of mistakes along the way, but that’s a part of life and necessary for growing up and getting experience. There will be times when you’ll get discouraged, when you feel heavy and down, but you shouldn’t worry about that too much. You’re surrounded by ponies who would do anything it takes to help you. You have nothing to fear.” “That’s right!” Sweetie Belle said. “Ferever and ferever!” Applebloom added in. “We ain’t never gonna letchu give up. All three of us er growin’ up now. We can’t stop here without even a cutie mark to show for it.” Scootaloo couldn’t help but let a little smile come to her lips as her friends hugged her again. “Thanks…everyone.” Rainbow Dash said, “Just the ending left. With everlasting love and boundless pride, your grandmare forever, Peach Cobbler.” Scootaloo sat there unmoving for a little while, a thoughtful look on her face as she absorbed what she heard. “Could you read it again?” She asked. “Of course.” In the end she asked for it a third time before she was satisfied. All of them stayed with her as she left her room to go see her grandmare. *** The walk there felt like it took forever, but I had a whole group of ponies by my side to help me up if I needed it. I held my breath as I stood outside the door, before finally pushing it open. I saw her, a blanket over her and her eyes closed like she was just sleeping. Slowly I climbed onto the bed, walking over to her and then suddenly collapsing as my legs seemed to lose all their strength. I put my hooves around her neck, feeling the tears start again. “I love you too! I’ll always love you! Thank you for believing in me and taking care of me all this time. I…I…” I closed my eyes, but I could still feel the tears coming out regardless. “I don’t want to quit either. I’m going to do it. I’ll fulfill your final wish, no matter how many years it takes.” To my surprise Rainbow Dash came over, putting a hoof on my grandmare’s shoulder. “That’s right. I’ll be there to help her every step of the way. It’s the least I can do to thank you for entrusting me with your most precious possession.” Now she looked at me. “It’s you and me, kid. Sisters forever, through thick and thin.” I stood back up, going over to her and hugging her now. “Thank you, Rainbow Dash. That means a lot to me.” The next few days passed by like a blur. There was a small funeral service for my grandmare since she really didn’t have any relationships with anypony besides me and, to a small degree, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie. I stayed close by Rainbow Dash during that time. The note from my grandmare was very inspirational and helped me see a lot about her I didn’t know, but…it couldn’t just erase the feeling of lose I had inside. My heart ached and burned from it, and several times I felt such a strong wave of despair threaten to overwhelm me I got scared I was going to go into that empty state again. As much as I loved Rainbow Dash, she just couldn’t make up for what I had lost, no matter how kind and compassionate she was. As the days went on I could see a problem. A big problem that was going to come up the longer I lived with Rainbow Dash. And there was nothing I could do about it. No matter what I did it was going to come up sooner or later, and then everything would be ruined. I left her behind at the house, now a full week since my grandmare died, and just decided to try what my grandmare did. I went for a walk. I didn’t know if that would help, but I just went wandering around for hours, not talking to anyone else, just observing everything around me. What was I supposed to do now? I felt so lost. There had to be an answer somewhere, but it sure didn’t seem like I was going to find it by looking at trees and birds. I’m sure Fluttershy might recommend an animal to cheer me up, but I knew that wasn’t going to work. I was pulled out of my thoughts by a voice calling my name. I turned around, and my heart sank even further, if that was possible. It was Star Gazer and Rose Blossom. She was riding on her mother’s back, holding her mom around the neck and giggling. “Scootaloo, where have…” Started Star Gazer, but then she stopped. I guess the look on my face said enough. “What’s wrong? What happened?” I felt my body start shaking with anger. That burning jealously I had only felt once before came to the surface. “Shut up! Stop acting like you care! You just stand there showing off how great you are and make fun of me! I hate you!” I started running off, but not looking where I was going I tripped over a rock, banging my knees on the ground. I felt myself begin sobbing before I could stop it, and the small pain was barely the reason. I curled up into a ball, trying to block out the world. I felt a wing on my shoulder. “What happened, Scootaloo?” Star Gazer asked in a concerned voice. “You and your friends didn’t show up for your weekly foalsitting job.” “She’s dead.” I said through my sobs. “She’s dead! My grandmare is dead.” I heard a gasp from her. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Scootaloo.” “My life is over! Rainbow Dash took me in, but it’s going to end terribly. I know that!” “Why do you think that? Doesn’t she love you?” “Of course she does! But I know her! She’s an action pony. She’s not a pony to be tied down and be a full time sister. That’s why it worked so well before, because I could go back and forth between houses as I wanted. She’s still young, and still has her job as the captain of the weather team. She also wants to be a Wonderbolt, and that’s been her dream since SHE was a filly. She’s not going to give it up for me. And even if she did, she would hate me for it. And I wouldn’t want her to do it, anyway. Because of my stunted wing, I know the feeling of having your dreams destroyed. I could never force her to have that same feeling. I...I just don’t know what to do!” I could feel the soft touch of something. When I turned to look I could see Rose Blossom, tears coming down her eyes as she saw I was upset. “No cry, Scootieloo. No cry.” Without a thought I pulled her to my lap, hugging her. Star Gazer moved around to the front of me, sitting down. I looked into her eyes, and I saw a weird look on her face. She wore a smile on her mouth, but her eyes looked sad. “Well, Scootaloo…if that’s the case then…would you like to come live with us?” “HUH?” I said, blinking repeatedly, not sure if I heard her correctly. “Well, I’m not going to go into the messy details, but there were some complications with Rose Blossom’s birth. The two of us are alright and we’ll get to live normal lives, but because of that I was told I wouldn’t be able to have any other children naturally. So then the next plan was to adopt a child. We were going to wait until Rose Blossom was at least a year old, as we didn’t want her to feel neglected and we wanted to enjoy the first life we created together before we took in a second. Now that things have gone this way though, circumstances have changed.” I felt a cold chill go through my entire body, feeling like I couldn’t breathe properly. “B-but…does your husband…?” “Truth be told, the two of us wished we could have had you sooner. Rose Blossom is awfully attached to you, and you’ve already shown you’re willing to risk yourself to save her. You’ve more than proven yourself as big sister material. I think it would make her happy too, and because we all already know each other, we don’t have to worry about establishing relationships or feelings of neglect. You’re now a pony who needs a family, so the both of us would have no problems taking you in and continuing where your grandmare left off, if you want us. I in no way mean to demean your grandmare, as she did a fantastic job of raising you as her grandchild, but I think every pony should know what it feels like to have a mom.” “A…a mom?” “I’m guessing that’s what you meant by me ‘showing off’ and ‘making fun of you.’ You felt envious of Rose Blossom for having what you never did. So how about it? Will you have me? Will you join our family? You saved my daughter’s life, and now I finally have the chance to return the favor by saving yours. I’d be overjoyed to have you as a daughter.” “J-j-join your family?” I said slowly, looking into her kind eyes, so familiar to my grandmare’s. I felt myself shaking again, happy tears starting to come down my eyes as I set Rose Blossom on the ground, then jumped up and said, “MOM!” Said it like I had done it all my life. I threw my hooves around her. “Mom! I finally have a mom! And a dad! And a little sister! “My answer is YES! Yes yes yes yes yes! Infinity times yes!” She sat down and pulled me into her lap, holding me close to her, her love being obvious. ”I’m so glad to hear that, Scootaloo, my wonderful new daughter.” She really meant it. She truly did love me. Now everything could be okay again. Rose Blossom forced her way into our hug, feeling a little jealous. The two of us just let her join in. I felt so happy! It felt like something that I hadn’t even known was missing had been found. For a while we just sat there in our little group hug, but then I pulled away first. “Well, this good news shouldn’t be kept just between us. We need to tell Cloud Hunter!” “You’re right. Come on.” We got up, and Star Gazer placed Rose Blossom on my back. “Hold on tight now.” “Howd on tight!” She responded, and I felt her hooves tighten around my neck. “Go! Go ! Go!” At first I walked, not wanting her to fall off, but Star Gazer told me I could go faster, so I began trotting. I could feel her bouncing around from it, and hear her laughter as she came along for the ride. I thought of Rainbow Dash, Applejack, and Rarity. Is this what it felt like to them, having a younger sister to look after? It sure felt good to me. When we reached her house we went inside. I saw Cloud Hunter sitting back in a chair. When he saw us he greeted all of us. I was bouncing on my hooves, and he asked me what had gotten me so excited. Star Gazer gestured at me. “Meet our new daughter!” A confused look came to his face. “What do you mean?” “Her grandmare passed away, and she needs a new place to live. I asked her about it, and she said she’d be glad to move in with us.” “That’s great!” He said, jumping up. “Um…I mean, it’s a tragedy that you lost your grandmare, but I’m glad you want to come live with us.” I ran over to him, jumping into his hooves. “Dad!” I said happily. I felt such a thrill in my tummy at being able to say those words to someone for the first time. He held me back, and I felt that same loving feeling from him that I got from Star Gazer. So he meant it too. The two of them really did want me, and I knew Rose Blossom loved me already. And they were a pegasus family as well. I had absolutely nothing against earth ponies. One of my best friends was one and I had also been raised by one, but…this just felt right. I knew this was where I belonged. That heaviness that had been threatening to break me down felt like it was gone. With this, I no longer had anything in my way. I could go forward without worrying. I told them I had to leave, as my grandmare had made Rainbow Dash my guardian, so I’d have to get her permission to move in with them. I ran until I saw her sitting on a cloud above me, and I called out her name. When she saw me she hopped off the cloud, and flew down to me. “Where have you been?” She snapped. “I’ve been looking all over for you. Why did you just take off like that?” “I needed some time to myself. And it paid off a lot.” “You sure look happy. What happened?” I stopped, wondering if I was about to hurt her feelings. But…I knew she would understand. “I found another house to live in.” “What…” She said, a frown on her face. “Who?” “Rose Blossom’s parents.” “Oh yeah. That baby you saved. What about it?” “Her mom said that they were looking to adopt a foal already, so when I told her about what happened to me she offered to let me move in with her as payback for when I helped her daughter.” I could see she looked a little put-out, so I explained my reasons to her, about being considerate of her own dream, and the joy I felt at having a set of parents. She sat down next to me, putting a wing around me and holding to her. “Oh, kid. Will I ever stop underestimating you? I did say I’d look out for you no matter what, but…I don’t know how I would have felt about you if I had to give up my chance of being a Wonderbolt for you. I’d like to think that it wouldn’t bug me, or we’d make it work out somehow, but…you make a good point. You need more than just me. You deserve to have a good, loving family. It will make things easier on both of us if we’re not together all the time. But if you ever need anything, anything at all, just come tell me and I’ll try to get it for you. Just because you have them, I know it doesn’t mean you don’t need me anymore, right?” “OF COURSE NOT! I still need you just as much as before. Not that even my grandmare wanted me to become great and not quit, I need a good coach. So I’ll make sure I come see you just like before.” “That’s good to hear. “I’ll go down to the adoption agency and transfer custody over to them.” She looked me in the eye and was quiet for a while. “I’m glad to see that you’re doing better. You really scared me, you know? I didn’t know if the Scootaloo I knew and loved was ever going to come back.” “Of course I did…because I had you to help me through it.” “Okay, squirt. Because of what happened there hasn’t been time for flying practice, but you’re behind now, so what do you say we make up for it tomorrow?” “Okay.” I nodded. “It’s a deal.” The next day, after our flying practice, Rainbow Dash gave me a set of papers to have them fill out, and soon enough it was official. They now really were my parents. Parents! I had parents now! I never ever thought I’d ever be able to have a mom and dad to call my own. All I had ever known was my grandmare for the longest time. And then I got a sister when Rainbow Dash offered, and now I had a family. Well, a bigger family. Things were getting better all the time. I was finally on the right path again. The path that led to my dream. And I was determined not to let anything stand in my way. Of course, just like with my grandmare’s note, my new family wasn’t able to erase all my heartache. It helped out a LOT, but it couldn’t just erase all those years of memories with her. It couldn’t erase knowing I’d never see her smile again. I returned to her home one last time, alone, to say my goodbyes to my old house. I went to each of the rooms in the house, just remembering everything we had done together. Her room, where I had learned to go to at night when I couldn’t sleep. My room, where she had tucked me in and read my stories. The living room, where she had let me sit on her lap in her rocking chair and nap together. The kitchen, where we had cooked together, talking about our days. She had known. She didn’t know when exactly it would be, but she had known that she was going to die sometime soon, and had prepared ahead so I wouldn’t feel guilty, like it had been my spending less time with her that had led to her dying earlier. I went to my room, going to the closet and pulling a sealed bag off the top shelf. I went back to the living room, sitting in her rocking chair as I opened it up. Out of it came a white blanket that had definitely seen better days. It had been washed before it was locked away, but it still had a bunch of holes and rips in it. It was the blanket she had found near where I had fell. As I unfolded it the pegasus wing medallion fell out of it, the one that contained the name my parents had lovingly given me. Or, at least I believed it was with love. As I had grown I had always favored this blanket, mostly because it and the medallion were the only reminders I had that someone had been caring for me before my grandmare. While I didn’t know for sure it was my parents who had been carrying me that night, given that it had been the middle of the night, and I was so young, I couldn’t imagine it being anyone else. I wrapped the blanket around me and began rocking back and forth, and I felt myself start crying very softly. No sobbing or anything like that. I felt such competing desires of happiness and sadness that I couldn’t decide which one I felt more. I found myself wondering, as I sometimes did before, what my parents would think of me if they could see me now. Would they approve of who I was? Going by the other ponies in my life who all praised my potential, I like to think they would have been fine with the way I turned out. My life wasn’t perfect, and neither was I, but I was on my way, growing stronger and smarter every day. I would grow beyond this! If I stopped here then no one would be happy. Not my friends, not my family, and certainly not me. There were many steps ahead on the path that led to beating Rainbow Dash and fulfilling her last wish. I knew that wish was still far off in the future. Because, as Rainbow Dash had said, there was no other ways about it. There weren’t any shortcuts. The only way I would ever reach her level was by working hard and working harder, getting all the practice and experience I possibly could. And that was going to take a lot of time. Years of time. Perhaps even decades, as Rainbow Dash was still growing too. But if that was what it took, I was willing to do it. Having come to that conclusion, I felt a lot calmer and more sure about my path. There was nothing to fear, not as long as I was surrounded by so many loving ponies. I closed my eyes, feeling relaxed as the back and forth motions caused me to feel sleepy. When I woke up from my nap I felt invigorated. I was ready for more practice. I took one last look around, grabbing a bag and taking the most important things with me, like all our photographs together, the blanket and medallion, and my favorite childhood book. And, naturally, my scooter. I walked through the house, where I had first began to grow as a pony through the early stages of my life. Now I was simply heading to a different stage, where I was going to grow into an adult. Life would be different, but the love would still be the same, so I knew there was nothing to fear. As I left I gave it a final look, telling myself I wouldn’t come back here again. Focusing on the past and sad memories would only hold me back from the future my grandmare saw for me, and I knew she wouldn’t want that. There was no one else to give the house to, so I guess technically it was mine now. It that was true then I thought maybe I would come back when I was ready to start my OWN family, if it was still empty by then. I threw myself into my training like never before. It was like a never-ending passion that only straight out exhaustion could stop, but only temporarily. I turned all my grief, all my sadness, all my pain, and turned it into training fuel. I had Rainbow Dash standing beside me the whole way, alternating between praise and insults. Our training sessions began getting longer and longer as I improved, and I was glad for it. Let her move success further away from me, and I’d only work that much harder to close the gap. Just like when I first started training, I went home with my wings burning and throbbing from going longer, and I’d usually be sweating so much by the end I could probably make a river out of it. But I persevered through it all, never complaining, only focused on making myself stronger. When I was through with training, I would go home to my family and wash up, then I’d either play with Rose Blossom or just sit on one of their laps and rest. Before I knew it six months had gone by since my grandmare had passed, and I got a real surprise when Rainbow Dash took me to our usual after training trip to Sugarcube Corner one day and saw all the ponies I loved gathered there, yelling out, “SURPRISE!” It was my birthday. I had been so wrapped up in my training that I had totally forgotten about my birthday. It was a great party. I only got one present, but that’s because everyone said they chipped in to buy it for me. According to Rainbow Dash, it was a gift from all of them because they each wanted to help me out, and wanted me to think of them being alongside me when I used it. When I said I understood Rainbow Dash went to the back room, and I covered my eyes as instructed. When she told me it was alright, I put my hooves down, and I saw to my surprise that they had all chipped in to buy me a brand new Scooter. Rainbow Dash said that she noticed I was starting to outgrow the one I had been using, and she was right. I was starting to have trouble keeping both hooves on the board comfortably, and I had to hunch down to keep a good grip on the handlebars. This one was bigger and more suited for the size I was. A part of me felt sad about my gift though. My first scooter was a special present my grandmare had put her heart into giving me. How could I abandon it after all we had been through together? But…that was right. It WAS a special gift she had gotten me to cheer me up when I had first thought I couldn’t fly. So now that she was gone it was one of my few mementoes of her, and so I wanted to keep it safe. Trying to ride something I had outgrown was likely to make me wreck it, and I wouldn’t be able to stand that. Of course I knew that the Scooter itself wasn’t the source of my grandmare’s love. It was still there within me, but I wanted to protect what she had left behind. And now I had the hopes and dreams of all my family and friends bestowed upon my new scooter, so it would make me much more powerful, knowing each of them had had a hoof in getting it for me. I thanked and hugged every single one of them, loving my gift. I gave it a test run, and it was the perfect size for me. It handled so smooth. Another year passed, and each day I found myself working hard, working toward my future self, the one that Rainbow Dash and my grandmare saw in me, tirelessly working out a few hours a day before calling it quits. Even if I could have kept going, I knew that my parents and Rose Blossom would miss me too much if I spent too much time out. And the same goes for me. I wanted to have time to spend with all of them too. I didn’t want to miss out opportunities to make new happy memories with them. On one of the few days I decided to take off I went to see my friends. The Cutie Mark Crusaders had unofficially ended. All three of us were now sporting our cutie marks. The marks of our destinies. Sweetie Belle, due to learning the patience to just watch and observe, as well as a desire to emulate her sister, got a dress and sewing machine cutie mark. She spent more time at her sister’s boutique, slowly increasing her skill. She told me her sister had even started letting her work there from time to time, based upon need. Applebloom got four apples. At first it seemed like she would show off to Applejack, who only had three, but each of her apples was a different color; Red, orange, green, and yellow, just like the ponies in her home, also symbolizing her love of her family and how she’d never let them go. And me? Very unsurprisingly I got a scooter cutie mark. One day after pulling off a particularly difficult move flawlessly and thought of all the things Rainbow Dash had told me I felt more and more that THIS was my trump card. It WAS what I was meant to do. And just like that…I finally got my cutie mark. However, even though the whole reason we started our group was to earn our cutie marks by helping each other out, our friendship remained. We had been through too much together to separate now. The three of us had all grown up, each starting to go down our own separate paths into adulthood, but we would never not be friends, just like our sisters. Each of them had their own lives, but still made time for each other. We were walking along the edge of the forest, just talking about things on the path by the edge of the Everfree Forest. As we walked along it made me think again of how I was found somewhere around here a long time ago. So much had changed since then in so many ways. Of course, there was no way to tell the exact spot I had been found. It wasn’t like it was marked with a sign or anything. With a laugh I said to them, “Hey, do you think there’s any missing chickens in there?” They laughed back. “Or something that LOOKS like a chicken?” Responded Applebloom. “That will turn you to stone if you look at it in the eye?” Said Sweetie Belle. I let out another small laugh. “We really were kids back then. We never put any thought into what we did and just generally caused trouble for those around us. Now we’ve all got our cutie marks and are heading quickly to our destinies. “ “Yeah. We aren’t nearly as dumb as we used to be.” “That’s just cuz we have good teachers to show us the way.” Said Applebloom. “Right!” As we continued along the way I suddenly heard something that made my blood run cold. It was a loud and ferocious roar of anger that suddenly echoed around us, and out of the woods by the Everfree Forest, came a giant dragon. It was a dark green, with lighter green scales and sharp claws. The three of us froze at first, unsure of what to do. The dragon landed in front of us with a mighty thud, but it didn’t attack. “WHERE IS IT?” It yelled, it’s face right near ours. “W-w-where is what?” I said, shaking. “You know what! Where’s my baby?” “B-b-baby?” “I left my egg in the corner of my cave to get food, and now it’s gone! I know one of you ponies took it. Just like the pony who helped that traitor of a dragon a few years back. “Very well, then. If you seek to hide it from me…” With its head back it let out a stream of fire. “Then I’ll just have to burn down the entire town so no one can have it.” “WHAT!” The three of us said in unison. “Starting with you three!” It brought it’s fist down, and all three of us scattered. It chased after me. I could see two overturned trees up ahead, like the shape of an “X”. I flew towards them. I expected the dragon to bang its head, but its hard head actually went THROUGH the trees. It tried to pull its head out, but it was stuck in there good. The town was in danger…and I knew what I had to do. The only thing that could be done. “Applebloom, Sweetie Belle. You two need to get out of here. I’ll hold it off.” “What? What are ya talkin’ about, Scootaloo?” Asked Applebloom. “Yeah. You can’t fight a dragon. We have to run!” Said Sweetie Belle. “I can’t. There’s too much at stake for me to run. If we do nothing then other ponies are going to get hurt. Weren’t we just talking about how we aren’t kids anymore? Our sisters put their lives on the line to save Equestria a bunch of times. Aren’t we trying to be just like them? I can’t just run away and do nothing, especially to just protect myself. It’s not HER style, and I’m not going to let it be mine, either. I know I can’t fight it, but I can at least hold it off while you get the town evacuated. It’s time to put all my training to work.” “Then let us one of us stay with you as a backup.” “No! All I need to do is stall until one of you can get Rainbow Dash over here to help. Even if your magic was stronger, dragons are extremely resistant to magic. And Applebloom’s strength is also nothing compared to a dragons. I’m the only one who can do it, as I have speed and the ability to fly giving me more maneuverability to get away. If both of you stay the town will never know, and we’ll eventually lose. And if one of you stays I’ll be distracted and too worried to fly at my best. “Do you remember what I said the first time we babysat Rose Blossom? I said that I’d never be able to stand it if one of you got killed because I wasn’t strong enough to help. That’s why you have to go.” “Then YOU should understand that WE wouldn’t be able to stand it if you got killed because we left you alone.” “If that’s what you really think then GO! Now! While it’s still stuck.” I saw the two of them, their faces clenching up as they both wanted to refuse, but they could see the situation the same as I did. There was no other way around it. “Ya better not die!” Applebloom said strongly, and the two of them ran off. I could see the dragon looking angry now that they were escaping. With a breath I saw a small flame come out, and as the tree burned it began to become more brittle until, with another roar, he pulled free of the trees he was stuck in. “Come on, then, tough guy!” I said, feeling a tingling excitement in my stomach. This was going to be my third time risking my life for something. The first time was trying to rescue Rose Blossom. The second was my foolish attempt to prove to myself I could fly by going to Rainbow’s house alone. And now…now I was staring down a dragon. It slammed its fist down at me, and I flew out of the way. When I heard it inhaling I flew straight up so the dragon would direct it’s fire into the air instead of the trees. The ease with which I swerved around felt amazing, and that feeling of excitement increased. The dragon was clearly getting angrier at me, it’s elusive prey. And I couldn’t help but laugh as, time after time, I managed to avoid it. *** Sweetie Belle and Applebloom made it to town. “Let’s split up.” Said Applebloom. “Like Scootaloo says we’re not kids anymore. If we just start screaming that there’s a dragon coming ta destroy the town there’s going to be a mass panic. I’ll go to town hall an talk to the mayor. You go to the library and get Twilight. She’s a princess now, so she’ll know what to do.” “Right!” Sweetie Belle responded. When Sweetie Belle got to the library she was glad to see Twilight sitting at the table, reading a book. “Twilight!” Twilight briefly looked up. “Hi, Sweetie Belle. I’m sorry, I’m really busy right now with-“ “There’s a dragon coming!” “Okay, that’s nice but I…” She looked up from her book. “Did you say a DRAGON?” “Yes! He came out of the Everfree Forest. He thinks someone in town stole his dragon egg, so he’s coming to destroy it to punish everypony.” “Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no, no! This is bad!” She felt a panic coming on, but then she did the breathing trick Cadence taught her to calm herself down. They suddenly heard the emergency alarm coming from Ponyville town hall. When they heard it that meant that every pony was supposed to gather there. This was perfect. “Come with me, Sweetie Belle.” “Right!” When they got there they saw there was already a big crowd gathering around. Twilight flew up to the podium, settling everyone down. “Everyone, I have been informed that there is a threat coming to town. I need everypony to stay calm and began evacuation procedures according to my instructions. “My friends. Will you all come up here?” Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Spike and Pinkie Pie all came up to stand next to her. “Rainbow Dash, I need you to gather the Ponyville Pegasi who help with weather control and make as many rainclouds as possible.” “Got it.” “Spike, I…AH!” “Ah?” Spike responded. “I… I remember!” “Remember what?” “Yesterday I had a conversation with a pony about a fancy ‘rock’ he had found that he believed to be a piece of Equestrian history. The whole time I was looking at it I just felt something strange about it, like I recognized it from somewhere, even though I was sure I’d never seen it before. Now I realize that it wasn’t a ‘rock’ at all. It was an egg. The dragons egg.” “A dragon!” “Dragon!” “A dragon’s coming here?” The ponies around them looked to be on the verge of panic from the sudden identification of the threat coming. “SETTLE DOWN, Y’ALL!” Applejack shouted firmly, and the voices died out. “Twilight knows what’s she doin’. Just trust in her and we can’t go wrong. “Go on, Twilight.” “T-thank you, Applejack.” Twilight looked over the crowd, trying to remember how exactly the pony had looked. “Is there a pony here with a very dark blue coat and magnifying glass and map cutie mark?” There was a small flurry of conversation, but no one stepped forward. “I promise that you won’t be punished. It was an honest mistake.” Still no one came forward. Twilight had to take some breaths again to keep herself calm. Was everyone not here? Or was the pony not from Ponyville? Well, she didn’t have the time to sit back and try to figure it out. They were on a time limit. “Applejack, I’m making you second in command here. You’ve shown you’re good at crowd control and keeping things in line. Rarity, you assist Applejack with the evacuation.” The two of them responded in the affirmative. “Fluttershy, you go to your home and round up all the animals you can and get them to safety.” “Oh, right. My animals.” “Spike, you send a letter to Princess Celestia and let her know of the situation and that I’m going to try to handle it myself.” “Alright.” “Pinkie Pie…” She stopped for a moment as her friend had a strangely grim look on her face. Though, this being Pinkie Pie, she thought her friend might suddenly burst into laughter. “Pinkie Pie, I really need you to be serious right now. This is important.” “I AM being serious, Twilight.” Her voice didn’t carry its usual cheery cadence. “I know the damage a rampaging dragon can do from that time Spike let his greed get the better of him, and I don’t want my bakery or the twins getting hurt because of it. You want a serious Pinkie, you’ll get a serious Pinkie!” Despite the situation Twilight couldn’t suppress a smile. As usual, she did whatever she had to for the sake of her friends and family. “You make it a point to become friends with every pony who moves in. Do you know who I’m talking about?” Pinkie’s face screwed up in concentration for a few seconds, but then she looked confused and said, “Nope. Doesn’t seem familiar to me.” That settled that. If Pinkie didn’t remember him, then he couldn’t live there. However… “Let me try something.” Her horn began glowing, and she implanted the memory of her conversation into Pinkie Pie. “Ohhhh!” Pinkie Pie said, perking up. “His name is Cave Digger. He lives in Fillydelphia. He works as an archeologist studying up on the Paleopony period.” “Why didn’t you remember before?” “Duh!” She said, but then remembered she was supposed to be serious, and said calmly, “Because he said he wasn’t going to move to Ponyville. He was only visiting. You think it’s easy remembering every single pony in Ponyville, as well as their birthdays and all the things they like. There’s only room in my head for my hometown.” “Well, that was really helpful. Pinkie, you come with me. We’re heading to Fillydelphia to get that egg back. “Now, all of you have your orders. Everyone, move out!” “Wait!” Rainbow Dash cried out. While they had all been talking she had looked down at the crowd, and saw Applebloom and Sweetie Belle. Noticing that only two of their usual trio was present, and that notably it was Scootaloo who was missing, the same pony who took after her, she got a bad feeling. If she wasn’t there she had to be elsewhere, and since she had seen one of them with the mayor and the other with Twilight right before the meeting, that meant that Scootaloo was likely… “Where’s Scootaloo?” “AH!” Sweetie Belle screamed. “I almost forgot. Scootaloo told us to go get you to help her. She’s stalling the dragon to buy time for everyone to escape.” “WHAT!” Rainbow Dash yelled. She leaped into the air. “What direction?” “That way.” Applebloom pointed. “Rainbow Dash.” Said Twilight. “I’m sorry, Twilight, but my family comes first. Banish me later if you want. I’m not letting my sister fight a dragon alone.” Without another word she zoomed off. “You better be alive kid!” *** Phew! My excitement had long since faded out. Either I was slowing down, or the dragon was getting smarter. I had a lot more close calls than before, forcing me to the full extent of my skills to keep out of danger. It had been about ten minutes I guess. I could only guess that Sweetie Belle and Applebloom had done what they were supposed to, and that the town was being emptied out. I wasn’t afraid. I knew that they were capable of getting it done. It slammed its tail into the ground a hairs breath from me. I zipped around as it continued its relentless pursuit, slamming at me with its claws, at one point trying to eat me. I just kept my wits about me to the best of my ability. I couldn’t afford to panic here. I was only stalling, after all. I didn’t have to worry about the finish as long as it was determined to get me. As long as it was chasing me, it couldn’t go after the town. Everyone’s safety was reliant on me until Rainbow Dash arrived. I flew up straight into the sky, encouraging it to follow after me. It was a lot heavier than I was, so it would surely be a slower flier. Or NOT! Despite its huge size it was actually a little bit faster than I was. It was quickly catching up to me, and I could only hope that I was correct as I stopped suddenly and started heading down. Just as I thought, at least its heavier weight stopped it from halting its momentum easily, and it took a few seconds for it to stop and start flying back towards me. Now that I knew how fast it was I was taking a risk, but I was now flying straight downward. I could feel it approaching me, and I knew it was going to be a very close call. At the last second I shifted directions, heading parallel to the ground. And the dragon, unable to stop himself in time, smashed into the ground. But…it didn’t have any effect. It quickly got back up like nothing had happened, and it swiped at me. I jumped out of the way and back into the air. I had to do that every time I noticed it was about to breathe fire. But I stayed close to the ground now. Now that I knew it was faster than I was it would be a stupid move to try to get it to follow me in the air. I had to keep it on the ground where I had the advantage of speed. With another one of its attempt to scratch me I zipped out of the way just in time, when I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my front leg. I saw it was bleeding, and I barely had time to process that before I felt it’s claw grab me and slam me to the ground. “That’s…cheating.” I said dumbly as I saw it had retractable claws, which is how it had fooled me. “I’ve had enough play time with you, pony. You and your whole town are going to pay for taking my baby from me.” I saw it take in a really deep breath, and I could see it was planning to roast me alive. I couldn’t get away from it. It was too strong. And dragons are fireproof anyway, so it wouldn’t have to worry about burning itself. There was nothing I could do. So this was it. I only hoped everyone had gotten away. “LEAVE HER ALONE!” I heard a voice yell. A voice I knew all too well. And then, suddenly, the whole world seemed to change. It felt like there was an earthquake, the dragon was gone, and in its place was Rainbow Dash, rubbing her head. She pulled me to my feet, and I saw the dragon was laying out on the ground, not moving. It was still breathing, but that was it. “Whoa…” I said in awe. “You took out a dragon with one hit. That’s scary.” She was still rubbing her head as she said, “Not hardly. Speed increases force and impact. Dragons may be extremely tough, but I guess even a dragon can’t take a sonic rainboom headbutt. This should give us enough time to get the egg. Twilight knows who it is. He lives in the next town over, so it shouldn’t take too long to get it back.” “That’s good.” I could see Rainbow Dash looking at me, and I knew what was coming. I had been an idiot, how dare I, could have been killed… However, to my surprise, she didn’t do that. She hugged me, saying, “Way to go, Scootaloo! You did a great job!” “Huh? But I thought you would be furious at me.” “Of course I’m mad! You could have gotten yourself killed, and you would have if I didn’t show up when I did. But…you thought ahead. You weren’t planning to last through it all by yourself. You planned to have me join you and help you from the beginning. And the reason I yelled at you for flying to my house on your own was because you took an UNNECESSARY risk that put your life in danger. This was a necessary risk, as things couldn’t have gone any other way to create the best chance for everyone to stay safe. I’m really proud of you!” She suddenly wobbled and sat down on the grass, rubbing her head again. “Darn it. Dragons have really hard heads. I’m going to have a big headache later. But it was worth it to save you.” I jumped onto her lap. “ Thank you, Rainbow Dash. Is everyone gone?” “Twilight’s started the evacuation and following up on the egg retrieval. It shouldn’t take more than twenty or thirty minutes for everything to be settled.” She put her hooves around me, holding me close to her. “I’m really glad you’re alright. You’ve grown a lot, Scootaloo.” “I was only caught because it cheated. It could extend its claws, so it made me think I was out of range so it could distract me with an injury.” “Well, you need to be more careful. I can’t save your butt forever.” “But I also know that there are plenty of things I just can’t do on my own. That nopony can do on their own. That’s why we have to rely on our friends and family. Taking on a dragon by myself wasn’t exactly an easy decision, but I didn’t want my friends to get hurt, and I knew I would get too distracted worrying about them.” It had only been about five minutes when we heard a snort behind us, then another one. The dragon was waking up already! “Okay, resting time is over, kid.” Rainbow Dash said, getting serious as she pushed me off of her. “Listen. Whatever happens you need to stay away from me.” “Are you telling me to go home?” I asked, feeling a little mad. “No! I need you here. I’m saying that it’ll be a lot easier for the dragon to attack us if we stay together. We need to stay split up and force it to constantly shift between targets, confusing it and lowering its effectiveness. The ONLY reason we should come near each other is if of us is caught.” “But what am I supposed to do if that happens? I can’t hurt it. I’m not strong enough for that.” “Obviously. Just go for the one spot that every creature is vulnerable.” “What’s that?” “The eyes.” I inwardly grimaced, but I knew it may be my only shot of helping out. “Also, watch out for its tail, too. It has hidden spikes there as well. Otherwise, you might just become a pony pincushion.” “Got it.” The two of us stood there, waiting for the dragon to get its bearings, and I suddenly noticed that we were standing side by side. The two of us were working together. She had asked for my assistance, and believed that I could help her if she wound up getting caught. With a mighty roar, the dragon charged at us as it recognized me. “Split up, kid! Go!” The two of us headed in opposite directions. For a moment the dragon seemed puzzled, looking between us and deciding which one to go after, its elusive prey or the one who had knocked it out. It suddenly changed directions toward me. I guess I had hurt its pride as a hunter too much. As I flew around some trees Rainbow Dash suddenly pulled up, getting in front of me and charging back towards the dragon, dodging its claws as it attacked her and heading upward to the sky, hurling insults at it as she stuck out her tongue. It shifted targets immediately, flying up toward her. Unlike me, Rainbow Dash was still a few steps ahead of the dragon in speed, easily dodging out the way. After about ten seconds. I saw her look over at me, and I knew it was time to switch. I flew towards it from behind, flying hooves first and gave it a kick to the back of the head. It wasn’t injured, but it seemed to have felt the impact. It turned around, and I stuck out my tongue and laughed at it before flying towards the ground, daring it to come after me. It followed behind me, but it was slow, probably learning its lesson from the last time. I saw it breathing in, and I knew it was about to unleash flames. This was no good! I wasn’t in a position where I could have it redirected upwards. All of a sudden Rainbow Dash landed on its snout. It paused for a second, and that was all the time Rainbow needed to give it a solid whack in the eye. The roar it let out probably carried over three towns. I had to cover my ears with my hooves. I heard Rainbow let out a cry of pain and go flying. In its wild flailing around it had hit her with its claw. Every part of my being wanted to zoom over to her and make sure she was okay, but I didn’t listen. She had said not to come near her no matter what. I trusted her, and I didn’t want to mess up her plan. She fell about halfway to the ground before recovering, coming back up to the level she had before. The dragon landed on the ground, bouncing from leg to leg and holding its claws over its face. For about a minute we just rested, watching it as it recovered. When it finally lowered its claw it looked more furious than ever. It grabbed one of the small trees nearby, and I just watched in awe as it pulled it straight out of the ground. And then, without warning, he threw it at me. I was so surprised that I didn’t move for a moment, before I realized that an uprooted tree was being chucked at me, and flew out of the way. I wasn’t in time to completely get out of the way. Luckily the numerous leaves that covered it softened the blow a bit, but it knocked the wind out of me and felt myself start going toward the ground. As I was headed down I glared at Rainbow Dash. I could see her struggling the same way I had been to stay put. I had nearly hit the ground before I found the strength to right myself. Now that it had been shown to be effective, the dragon started picking up things and hurling them at us. Rainbow Dash’s said that speed equals power, so the reverse was true. It had a lot of strength, so it could throw things hard enough to go faster than it could go itself. I flew up higher to give myself more time to react. Back and forth we went in our stalemate, none of us able to beat the other. How long did it go on for? Thirty minutes? An hour? I was concentrating on keeping my eye on the dragon when a sudden happy gasp came from Rainbow Dash. Thought I knew it was a bad idea to take my eyes off of it I turned my head to her, wondering what had caused it. I saw her looking somewhere behind me, and as I turned to look I saw Twilight and the rest of the gang running toward us. I saw her horn glowing, and a small round object floating in front of her. It was the egg! They had got it back! A victory for us. If we gave it its child back, it would probably leave us in peace… Maybe… I heard a throaty laugh, and as I turned back I saw the dragon was heading right for Rainbow Dash, who was distracted. With the others coming I wasn’t going to listen to her orders anymore. I flew to my utmost, holding nothing back. And, somehow, I found myself going faster than it. I guess before I had been holding back without even realizing it. I saw Rainbow Dash turn towards the dragon, too late now to get out of the way. I crashed into her, pushing her out of the way as the dragon spun its body and slammed its tail down. It felt like a train hitting me in the back. I knew something had to have broken. My vision went black for a few seconds, and I barely had time to get my bearings before I saw the ground quickly coming up to meet me, and unable to do anything about it. With a crunch I felt my body slam into the ground about as hard as I had been knocked down, bouncing off the earth and landing on my back. The pain become so great that it seemed to change to nothingness. I could no longer feel anything. My vision was blurry, and I could see the dragon racing down toward me to finish me off. There wasn’t a thing I could do to stop it. I felt my eyes closing, knowing that this was the end. It’s a shame that I never did have that race with Rainbow Dash. Although I hadn’t accomplished my grandmare’s final wish…I didn’t have any regrets. I knew my grandmare, and so I knew that she would be much happier and prouder knowing I had risked my life for the entire town than to simply win a race. I had protected Rainbow Dash, and Rose Blossom, and Star Gazer, and Cloud Hunter, and Applebloom and Sweetie Belle; Pinkie Pie…Rarity…Applejack…Fluttershy…even Twilight. It was all thanks to me that nothing bad happened. The blackness called out to me. Whether it was going to be sleep or death I didn’t know, but either one was okay with me. I was a hero! *** Events changed continuously. I was flying at night in a forest. I was scootering in the middle of a summer day. I was running and playing with my friends in the snow, making snowponies. But no matter what I did, I kept getting distracted. There was something wrong, something really wrong. I could hear crying somewhere nearby. No matter where I went and how hard I tried to look, still the crying didn’t get any louder or softer. It always sounded the same. Someone needed help. I could just feel it. Someone needed ME. But where were they? Who was it? The town suddenly went completely dark. There wasn’t even a star or moon in the sky. It was so dark I couldn’t see a thing. I ran around, trying to find a house and get a lantern to see. The crying was getting louder. I was getting closer. Closer and closer. Closer and closer. Louder and louder. So close! Where? Where I was wasn’t important now. The black began to change, first to gray, then getting whiter. Finally it felt so bright I couldn’t see. *** When I was able to open my eyes again I felt heavy. I looked down at the edge of my bed, seeing the rainbow colored mane of Rainbow Dash, the source of the crying that had been in my dreams. She was crying so hard I thought for sure that someone had died. Had I died? But I was awake. Was I a ghost? No…ghosts don’t really exist. It took three tries to get my voice to work, and even when it did it came out really raspy. “Ra…Rain…Rainbow…Dash…” At the sound of my voice her head raised up, and I could see her eyes were red from crying. “S-S-Scootaloo…Scootaloo! You idiot!” She said, slamming her hoof on the bed. “Why? Why did you do this? You shouldn’t have done it! I’m the older one! It’s…it’s all my fault. It’s all my fault!” She began shaking, a new film of tears forming on her eyes before she began sobbing again. “What’s all your fault?” I asked. As I went to move my hoof to pat her head I found that I couldn’t. It hurt to move it. Twilight came up to me, and I could see the whole gang was there. All my friends and family. Every one of them was crying, but Star Gazer looked like she was the only one crying as much as Rainbow Dash. “Scootaloo. I…” She stopped. “Well, it would be better for the doctor to explain it to you. He knows it all better.” They summoned the doctor, who came in a minute later. “Hello, Scootaloo.” He said. “First off, on behalf of Ponyville Hospital and all the patients you helped, I want to thank you for your heroic actions. “On to business now.” I saw him take out a series of charts, placing them on the board. “These are all the x-rays we took of you following the incident. Your…your body is a wreck. Your wings, two ribs, and all four of your legs are broken. Right now we have you on an IV drip to put some painkillers in your body to help you over the initial hurdle of recovery. It’s still too early to know for sure but…chances are, while your life is not in danger…you’re probably not going to walk or fly again. I’m sorry.” “I see…” I could feel all of them staring at me, waiting for my reaction. I lifted my head up and smiled. “So then, is that all? I thought it was something serious.” I could see the doctor looking at me strangely. And as I glanced around the room, all of them had that some dumbfounded expression on their faces, and it made me laugh. “S-Scootaloo…what in Equestria are you laughing about?” Rainbow Dash said, sounding a little angry. “Aren’t you listening? Didn’t you hear what he said?” “Yeah. What of it? I’m laughing because it’s not a big deal.” “N-not a big deal?” The doctor asked. I could see that none of them understood what was going through my mind, so I decided I’d better tell them before they think the crash made me loopy. “A long time ago, back when I first saved Rose Blossom I had to launch my scooter away to save her. I thought it had been destroyed. Later on, Rainbow Dash asked me if I would still have done the same thing if I had known it would cost me my scooter. My answer now is the same as it was then. Of course! I would always do it! And it’s the same for the situation here. Even knowing that I would be seriously hurt, I still would have pushed Rainbow Dash out of the way of the attack every time. The whole reason I stalled the dragon in the first place was for all of you, and the whole town. I wanted to protect everyone, and not let anyone else get hurt. I wanted to protect my little sister, my family, my friends…everyone. Because it’s what I knew my idol would do, and so I knew I had to do it too. “When you showed up I got to work with you side-by-side just like always wished for me.” I felt happy tears coming down my eyes. “And…I even got to protect my big sister as well. I protected your dream of being a Wonderbolt. Your birthdays coming up, and you need all the practice you can get. You can’t afford to spend months in the hospital if you want to get into that academy.” “Scootaloo…” Rainbow Dash responded quietly, clearly touched. “ I have absolutely no regrets about any of it. I got to use my training to accomplish something so great I never would have even imagined I’d get to do. I’m so proud of myself I can’t even find the words for it. I got to accomplish something much bigger than a simple race with you, and I know my grandmare would be much prouder of me for that. “What else should I do? Cry? Whine? Complain? I did enough of that when I was a brat. It might be a different story if I was dying, but I’m not. I fully believe I’m going to get out of this bed and continue on my path. Right now I’m only resting. Because just like my grandmare said to me in my final words, I don’t want to EVER give up. Giving up is the same as quitting, and like you told me before, Rainbow Dash, the mind and your attitude can be ever more important than your body. I believe I’m going to get stronger and recover and so I will. And even if I never walk again…that’s okay too because I’ll still be alive. As long as I have all of you standing by my side, I know I have absolutely nothing to be afraid of. With our friendship we’ll always find a way to pull through, no matter how hard things get.” It got really quiet in the room for a time. I think I had shocked everyone into silence. Rainbow Dash was the first one to speak up. “You…Scootaloo…you…” Then she let out a weird sounding laugh. “Oh come on! How am I supposed to feel guilty now after a speech like that, you idiot?” “You shouldn’t. I knew what the risks were.” “I could never think like that. My wings and flying are my life.” “Then it only makes me even happier to have done it.” I suddenly remembered. “What happened with the dragon and the egg?” Twilight spoke up. “Me and Pinkie Pie managed to find the pony who had it. After we explained the situation he quickly handed it over to us, fearing it might come to his town next if he didn’t. When we managed to get back the dragon slammed you with its tail into the ground, although it had been aiming for Rainbow Dash.” “The thought of success made me careless. I dropped my guard.” Rainbow Dash said right after. “The dragon went after you to finish you off, but I used my magic to get you to safety. After mocking and attacking it the dragon was pretty angry at the two of you. Though it’s a method I would not have liked to use I had to wind up making a threat against the egg to get it to listen to me. I explained the entire situation, and in exchange for leaving the town and you two alone I offered it a special force field spell for its cave, that would prevent anything non-dragon from coming through, so it would never have to worry about other creatures invading its home anymore. It took some time to decide, clearly wanting to finish off its revenge, but in the end it finally decided to take its egg back and accept my offer. “After making sure that I kept up my end of the bargain, and after I waited for a short time to be sure it wasn’t going to back out of our deal, I brought the ponies back from their evacuation spot. “You did a great thing, Scootaloo. Thank you! I wish I could do more for you, but…” “Your thanks is good enough for me.” I saw Rainbow Dash shaking. “Crying again?” I asked with a laugh. “No…” When her eyes met I saw that twinkle in her eyes. “I’ve heard enough. I’ve watched enough. I haven’t felt this excited in a long time.” Putting her face right next to mine she stared me down, saying, “When you heal up, and you WILL, I’m challenging you to a race, Scootaloo! It’s time!” I felt my breathing stop for a few seconds, my eyes widening. Rainbow Dash was finally acknowledging me. She thought I had grown enough to be a worthy challenge. With a condescending laugh she said, “I thought you said you were done crying, crybaby.” “These are tears of victory!” I said back. “More like tears of defeat!” “Oh please! You should just challenge me now. It’s the only way you’ll have a chance.” “Yeah, right! I flew better than you when I was in diapers.” We got in each other’s faces, staring each other down, each daring the other to blink. “Oh, for pony’s sake! Here!” Said Rarity in an exaggerated voice. And before I knew it there was a garbage can between us. “If you’re going to talk so much trash you’ll need this.” The whole room began to crack up. Even though it hurt to laugh I couldn’t stop. The doctor pushed us away from each other. “Okay, okay. Break it up, ladies. Don’t go getting her all excited.” It was far too late for that. I was excited, just as much as her. I had my recovery ahead of me, but after that was everything that the last few years had led up to: my fateful showdown with Rainbow Dash. It was a little boring being unable to move, but for the next month I had a ton of visitors. Not just my friends and family, but random ponies from around town who wanted to thank me for what I did. The second day I was in the hospital I even got a visit from PRINCESS CELESTIA of all ponies, who thanked me for what I did and offered condolences for my injuries. It took another month before I had healed up enough to go home in a wheelchair. Star Gazer and Cloud Hunter pushed me around, and they had the chore of explaining to Rose Blossom why I couldn’t run around and play with her and read her stories like usual. I did my best to stay as still as possible, no matter how boring it seemed, wanting my bones to heal up as soon as possible. Since I had a lot of free time, I tended to think a lot about things. Most of the time I thought about the race, but I also thought about how lucky I was, both to be alive and to have such great ponies in my life. And then one day I thought of how what I was going through now was almost a repeat of what had happened to me as a baby. I had survived back then, and I was going to survive this too. The days seemed to stretch endlessly before me. I never gave up my spirit, but I was getting more impatient by the day. I wanted to move, to get out there and run, to fly. The day finally come when I got the casts off. It felt so strange to be free of them after so long. By believing in myself I think that I had managed to make them heal faster. The first thing I did when I left the hospital was to go for a fly. I only went a few feet off the ground before I landed and began running. Something felt wrong. It felt really awkward, like I had four left hooves. Rainbow Dash told me that it was because I had been in casts for so long, so my muscles had weakened from lack of use. She pledged to help me get my ‘edge’ back. Gosh! It felt so embarrassing as I tried to go through my usual routine. I couldn’t seem to do anything right, and it felt like I was starting my training over from the beginning. It felt like spending hours studying for a test at school, then failing it because I had forgotten my pencil at home. Even though in my mind I knew everything I was supposed to do, my body just wouldn’t cooperate. Every day after school Rainbow Dash came to collect me, pushing me to remaster my flight moves. I didn’t mind it much. She hadn’t come to visit me much in the hospital, so I guess she had been really busy with practicing for the academy. It had been over two months since Rainbow Dash’s birthday, and since she hadn’t said a word I finally asked her, “So when are you going to stop holding out on me? How did the Wonderbolts Academy go?” “I got my acceptance letter over a month ago…” She said quietly. “And I turned it down.” “WHAT!” I said. “Why would you do that?” “Scootaloo, I’m your older sister. It’s my job to protect you. You went against that to protect me, and I can’t ever forget that. Even if I wasn’t the element of loyalty I still wouldn’t have gone. That would be the most ungrateful and disgusting thing I would have ever done.” She looked up into the sky, a thoughtful, faraway look on her face. “A Wonderbolt is an elite. Many apply, but few are considered, and even fewer ever make it. It has always been my dream to get in and become a show-pony like them. However…if I turn my back on you now I wouldn’t be worthy to be a Wonderbolt. I would be a disgrace to the title. I wouldn’t be worthy to be looked up to. And every time I looked out upon the audience and saw a filly, I would only be able to think of you, lost and alone in the woods of the path that is your life.” “What do you mean, alone?” “Don’t get me wrong, kid…I know what the toddler and her parents mean to you. But they’re useless here. They’re content with just being a family and going on about their lives, only flying when they need to, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, I’m a practically world renowned pony with tons of experience in competing.” She said it with a neutral voice, with none of her usual confidence. “You need me now more than ever. Even if it means starting over and spending every single day together, I’m going to stay with you and help you get your skill back. If it hadn’t been for you pushing me out of the way, then it would be me in your spot. I couldn’t even stand an hour in the hospital, almost going out of my mind with boredom until Twilight first introduced me to the Daring Do series. “Watching you after the accident, with that speech you gave, it made me…jealous. I’m always pumping myself up so I’ll feel confident, but you genuinely felt that way. It wasn’t fake confidence like I sometimes have. You showed me that you’ve become amazingly strong mentally and emotionally, and I kinda feel like I’m on the verge of being left in the dust by you in that regard. That was my initial reason for challenging you to a race, so I could get that feeling of superiority back over you. When I realized that, I was disgusted with myself. Now…my thoughts have changed. Since you were willing to sacrifice your limbs for me, I’m willing to sacrifice all my free time for you.” She finally looked back down at me, that same deep look on her face. “I want to race you for real…as an equal.” I could see that she still felt guilty over what happened. And I also knew that nothing I said was going to change her mind. She was going to help me relearn to fly no matter how long it took, putting her own dream on hold for me, and I appreciated all the efforts she was taking for me. For the next six months we had daily training. It was for much shorter periods than our usual training time, but Rainbow Dash said that she didn’t want to push me too hard having just gotten out of my casts and resuming a normal life. Day by day, I worked as hard as I could. I felt myself becoming stronger again. I started to get my timing and reflexes back through endless practice. And, just like when I was training before, when I was done I went home to my family to relax. Rose Blossom was happier now that she had her sister back to play with. The day came when I felt I was around the level I was at before the dragon attack. I spent the next three months training by myself, trying to come up with tricks and techniques for our big race. The day both of us had been working towards had come. And that realization brought about such a degree of excitement and anticipation I didn’t have words for it. *** It was a bright sunny day. The perfect weather for an epic race. Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash gathered all their friends and family to watch, Rainbow Dash having set up a course for them in advance. The race was to be one big lap. Twilight made sure to get some time off for that day, using the excuse that it was to check up on Scootaloo’s healing progress. After all, as a princess, it would be rude to ignore the hero that had helped protect the town from being attacked. Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash approached the starting line, Scootaloo on her scooter and Rainbow Dash walking. Rainbow Dash felt a thrill in her heart to finally be having a proper race with her pupil. She had done her duty of repaying her debt, so, at the end of this, she was ready to resubmit her application for the Wonderbolts Academy. She knew she would be able to raise her head high and be proud of herself now. She stretched out her wings and body, preparing herself for the upcoming race. She was ready! When she glanced over at Scootaloo, she saw her sister just standing there unmoving, a hoof on the ground to keep herself upright. “You ready for this, Scootaloo?” “I’m fine! You just worry about yourself.” She replied in an annoyed voice. “Hmmm…” Rainbow Dash looked at Scootaloo. There seemed to be a negative air around her. She guessed it was simple nerves. This was her first real race, after all. Once they got going she was sure her sis would perk up. Twilight stood off to the side, feeling a strange sense of anticipation too. She didn’t have a lot of interest in racing, but…this was more than just a race. It was also to show Scootaloo’s progress and how far she had grown. And for her, who had first come to this town an unsocial loner who had learned what friendship was all about so much she eventually became an alicorn princess…that was what she was most interested in seeing. The starting point was on a big circular platform, allowing each of the watchers to keep track of every part of the race. They were to take off from there, go around the circle of the path, and wind up back where they began. “Alright, then!” Twilight said. “On your marks…get set…” Both Rainbow Dash and Scootaloo opened their wings, gently flapping them. “GO!” The two of them took off, Rainbow flying and Scootaloo scootering. Scootaloo hopped off the platform onto the track, zooming along. Rainbow Dash flew alongside her, still looking at her. She still had that look on her face. It wasn’t plain old focus. It was just…dead. She didn’t look excited or happy at all. “Are you sure you’re alright, Scootaloo?” “I told you, I’m fine!” She went faster, trying to get away, but Rainbow Dash easily kept pace with her. “You don’t look fine. You don’t even look like you’re enjoying yourself.” “I’m not here to ‘enjoy myself.’ I’m here to win!” That settled it. It was exactly what she thought. “So that’s how it is, huh? You’re so focused on the thought of victory you’ve completely lost sight of yourself as a racer. “Anypony can win. Nothing to it. Everypony has something they’re good at, so winning isn’t difficult. But a true disciple of Rainbow Dash knows that it’s not about winning. It’s about winning with style; Capturing the audience and giving them something to watch. You’re just going along, stiff as a board, focusing only on the end goal of winning and forgetting that there IS a race in-between.” With a big sigh she said, “I can’t get into a race like that. I was so eager to compete against you. What an utter disappointment you turned out to be. “If the win is the only thing that matters to you, then fine. It’s yours. This isn’t worth my time. I quit.” And with that she raced ahead to the tree in front of her and laid back in it, her hooves behind her head. *** I came to a stop near the tree, and tears began coming down my eyes as I saw I had done it again. I had completely let Rainbow Dash down, so much so that I made her quit, something she never did. I had the chance of a lifetime, and I had blown it. She was right. She was totally right. I HAD lost sight of myself and was too focused on victory. I propped my scooter against a tree, then flew up to the branch she was sitting on. Her eyes were closed. I waited. I knew she was going to give me some time to think about the lesson she had just taught me before she acknowledged me, so anything I said now wasn’t going to make her talk to me. *** “What happened?” Asked Star Gazer. “Why’d they stop?” “Rainbow Dash stopped first.” Said Applejack. “But she’s not a quitter. I don’t get it.” “Maybe they got into an argument.” Suggested Fluttershy. “Oh, come now, darling.” Said Rarity. “Do you really think a little bit of trash talking is enough to get under Rainbow Dash’s skin that much?” “There’s something behind this.” Said Twilight. “Scootaloo seemed awfully tense. Maybe Rainbow stopped the race for that. It feels like the lesson Cadence gave me in managing my breathing to keep calm.” “Well, you ain’t an alicorn fer nothin’, huh, Twilight?” Said Applejack. *** It had been about five minutes. Rainbow Dash finally opened her eyes, meeting mine. She glared at me, not saying anything. But…she didn’t have to. I got the message. “I’m so sorry, Rainbow Dash. You were right. You were right about everything. I…I was…” I sighed in defeat. “I was scared. I was too scared to race you and lose. And it was more than just about my grandmare’s last wish. I wanted it for me personally, to feel like I had actually made a lot of progress and become an adult. I practiced for many hours on tricks, but…when I got here and we were going to start, because you’re the best of the best around here, I thought that I couldn’t enjoy myself. I thought if I wasted any time with stunts or messed around even a little, then I wouldn’t stand a chance. You’d just overtake me and I’d never be able to close the gap. So that’s why I was so intensely focused on the end goal. I didn’t think I had any choice if I wanted even the slightest chance of winning. “But…” I felt some more tears come down my eyes. “I’m a colossal fool. I wasn’t thinking about you or the audience at all. I wasn’t thinking about how the fact that you even challenged me at all had to mean I was growing up. I was being stupid, and I know it. “I’m really sorry, Rainbow Dash. I…can I…will you give me another chance? Please? I won’t do it again.” She turned over and stood up, still staring at me. Then with a grin she pushed me out of the tree. With a quick motion I landed on her back before I hit the ground, and she picked up my scooter as we headed back towards the starting line. “One chance, kid. ONE! I’m not putting my all into a boring race or a race I just can’t get into because I’m going against a sourpuss. You mess this up again, and I’m not giving you a third chance. Understand?” “Yes! You know me. I’m good at learning from my mistakes.” “No doubt about that.” When we landed back on the starting platform Twilight came up to us and asked, “What happened?” “Nerves.” Said Rainbow Dash simply. “Just as I thought. I had to shock her out of it, so I told her I wasn’t going to race her while she was acting like that.” “So I was correct.” “I want to have a proper race with her. Racing is supposed to be fun. If it’s not fun then it’s a chore. And only weirdo’s like Spike like doing chores.” “Hey!” Cried out Spike as laughter broke out. I finally spoke up when it quieted down. “Yeah, that’s right. Like she told me, I was only focused on winning, and I forgot there was a race in-between. Yeah, that would be the story of a lifetime for my kids. I’d tell them about my first big race. ‘Rainbow Dash was zooming and zipping around, doing all sorts of tricks.’” Doing a kiddy voice I said, “And what did you do?” Making the most boring voice and face I could I said flatly, “I rode in a straight line.” Everyone burst out laughing now. “Alright, Scootaloo.” Said Twilight when everything settled down. “Are you ready to start again?” “…No.” I responded honestly. “After all those negative emotions I need a little bit of time to get myself back in the right state of mind for an epic race. Otherwise, this race will be no fun at all.” “Smart move, kid.” Rainbow Dash said, tapping my head with her hoof. I went over to Star Gazer, and without a word I hugged her. Star Gazer said, “I love you, Scootaloo.” “I love you, too.” I said back, feeling her love filling me up. “I’m sorry for being dumb.” “Well, there’s always another lesson to be learned. Our princess can attest to that.” “Yeah.” When I let go I sat on the ground, calling Rose Blossom over to sit on my lap. I held her too, shaking off those feelings that had been holding me back. “Race time?” She asked. “Almost, Sis. Right now I need some hugs.” “Yay! Love you, Scootieloo.” I had to laugh. I was sure she’d get it right someday. Right now I thought it was too cute to correct her. “I love you too.” After a few minutes I told her to go back to our mom. I spent the next ten minutes going back to basics. I focused entirely on my breathing, taking measured in’s and out’s. After that I stood up, going through my wing stretches. With a final deep breath I stared determinedly at Rainbow Dash. Physically…mentally. I was ready! “Let’s do this!” Rainbow Dash returned my gaze the same way. “Oh, yeah! Now that’s the look! Now I’m starting to feel excited again.” As we both went back to the starting line I said, “Hey! Where’s our cheering section?” Sweetie Belle called out, “GO SCOOTALOO! Show that Rainbow Dash!” Applejack looked hesitant for a moment, but then she said, “Go on, Rainbow Dash! Show that upstart who’s boss. I’m the only one that can beat ya!” I had ponies cheering for me, and ponies cheering against me. That was fine. Rainbow Dash needed some encouragement too. I could really feel it. The thrill that only comes from the thought of the biggest event of your life. I was racing against Rainbow Dash, the best flier in Equestria. This was everything I had fought for since I met her. My grandmare’s dream, my own dream…a lot was on the line for me. I had almost squandered it with my stupid thoughts, but not now. Win or lose, I was going to give it my all and hold nothing back. I would give everyone a show to remember. It was time to see what I was really made of, and if I was really as good as I thought I was. I was so eager to get going I was shaking in anticipation. “Anxious to start, huh, Scootaloo?” Said Rainbow Dash. “Now I feel that this will be worth my time. You’ll make a good opponent.” “Only good, huh?” I responded with a grin. “Let’s see if I can’t change your mind about that before the end.” “Sounds good to me, kid. I’m not holding back, so you better not either.” “I wouldn’t dream of it.” Twilight raised her hoof as our crowd kept shouting out encouragement for us. “On your mark…get set…” Just like before, we both opened our wings and began flapping them in preparation. “GO!” She yelled as she lowered her hoof. And so it began. The race of my dreams. I hopped off the platform onto the ground, Rainbow Dash keeping pace with me. I smiled at her. She smiled back at me. “How is it?” She asked. I didn’t have to ask what. We had only started, but I loved the feeling of adrenaline rushing through my body. “It feels amazing.” “I’ll catch you later, kid.” She said with a wink, speeding ahead and heading up into the air. I wasn’t going to fall back immediately. This was what I had been training for. With a smirk I jumped my scooter near a small tree branch. As I grabbed the branch and started going up from the momentum I launched my scooter diagonally up, spinning for a few rotations before I launched myself. With my speed I easily caught up to it. Landing on it again I flapped my wings hard. “Hi, Rainbow Dash!” I said as I passed her in the air, heading back down. “Heh. Showoff!” She said with a laugh. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way! Bring it on!” I landed my scooter, dodging between trees. I came upon a hill up ahead and jumped it, spinning rapidly before landing straight in the path. The race fell into a pattern. Every time one of us would get a lead we’d start taking the time to show off for our audience. I couldn’t suppress a giddy laugh, a few happy tears coming down my eyes. This was the most fun I ever had in my life. A lot of my trick always took flying into account. I was really good at launching my scooter and flying after it to get myself in a position to do my stunts. Back and forth we went, none of us having a clear lead. I came upon a low branch and jumped it. When I came to another one I grabbed the handlebars tight and tilted it, sliding underneath it before pulling it back up. I began hopping from tree to tree without touching the ground. In terms of style and position in the race, I thought we were about equal. So it would come down to who crossed the finish line first. I had done a good job of pacing myself, making sure to keep enough for the final push. I’m sure she had too. She wasn’t stupid. I knew I had to be very careful with that energy I had been saving up. If I used it too soon she would use hers too and win, because she surely had more stamina in reserve than I did. Everything was going really great…up until near the very end. The race was about to come to an end. There was one more turn before we had to head back to the starting point. I had mostly stayed on the ground, and she had mostly stayed higher up in the air, sometimes doing tricks with clouds. To get one last trick off I launched my scooter like usual…just as she flew down to get to the finish line. It was headed right for her! “RAINBOW DASH! Look out!” “Huh?” She turned behind her, and I saw her eyes widen as she dodged out of the way. I let out a sigh of relief as I passed by her, getting back on my scooter, and weakly doing a small rotation. That had been too close. I made the turn, heading towards the platform where the race would end. I was in the lead now. That accident had cost Rainbow Dash a few seconds. I felt my heart began racing, and it wasn’t just the end of the race of the possibility of winning. I heard the sound of distorting air, a sound I knew all too well. The sound of the start of a sonic rainboom. She was determined to get that lead back and win the race. I had to fight not to panic. If she did that she’d win, both the race and in terms of stylish moves. It would be a total defeat. No more holding back! And that wasn’t out of desperation, but because of no longer needing to watch my stamina. If I could get to the finish line before she pulled it off, I could still at least win the race even if she beat me in style. *** Rainbow Dash smiled. ‘Sorry, kid.’ She thought. ‘I want to win! I’m not letting you steal this from me.’ The air curved around her as she sped up more and more, starting to close the gap. ‘It was fun, but no more playing around. I’m making this race mine!’ She felt the sensation that came right before the explosion, then she looked at Scootaloo and a frown came to her face. With a frustrated growl, she thought, ‘Darn it! I can’t. I can’t rainboom here.’ *** I pushed myself to my utmost. When I got close to the platform, I tilted my scooter forward, launching myself from it, hoping that increased speed would do it. Closer and closer the gap between me and the end of the race came, that same feeling of time distortion coming about. I kept waiting to hear the explosion as it approached. I flapped my wings as hard as I could. So close. So close! I crossed the finish line! As I came to a stop I expected to see Rainbow Dash already there, but she came in a second after me. A bunch of cheers went through the crowd. Applebloom and Sweetie Belle were hopping up and down in excitement. For a moment I felt the thrill of victory, but it immediately went sour. I went up to Rainbow Dash and I gave her a smack. The cheering immediately stopped. “What was that?” I snapped. “I told you not to hold back!” “I didn’t hold back.” She said angrily. “Don’t lie to me! I heard the sound of a sonic rainboom starting. You deliberately didn’t do it. I don’t want a fake victory.” “I DIDN’T HOLD BACK!” She yelled, getting in my face. I wished she would hit me. I was certainly ready to go at it. “Alright!” Snapped Twilight. “Break it UP!” The last word seemed unnaturally loud, accompanied by a magical bang. “This isn’t going to go anywhere if you just yell at each other.” Her horn glowing again she pulled the two of us apart. “Rainbow Dash, what do you mean by you didn’t hold back?” “I can’t believe I even have to explain why. It should be obvious to anyone who has a brain.” “Answer the question, Rainbow Dash.” She said in a unusually commanding tone. “Yes, your highness.” She responded condescendingly, giving a fake bow that was clearly meant to be disrespectful. “You think I held back because I felt bad for you or something? Hardly. I like to win! A sonic rainboom is a technique a pegasus can only use when going at extreme speeds. When its reached it sets out a sonic boom. It I had kept going the boom would have gone off right next to Scootaloo, likely sending her flying into something and getting her hurt. I don’t ever want to have a win that come at the cost of hurting others. No victory is worth that. That’s all!” She let out a heavy sigh, pointedly turning away from all of us and crossing her hooves. So that was it. I could see I was in the wrong here. I had made some assumptions about her that I shouldn’t have. I went up and sat next to her. “I’m sorry, Rainbow Dash. I messed up again. “Even if you held back to avoid me getting hurt, I still don’t deserve the win. You wouldn’t have needed to try a sonic rainboom if I hadn’t launched my scooter by you. That cost you a few seconds, so I basically cheated. Let’s just call it a draw.” She turned to me with a light sigh, the anger gone and replaced with a slightly dejected look. “No… it’s your victory, Scootaloo. I was just sulking before. Luck is a part of skill. And I just had some bad luck today. It was my own fault for not paying attention to what was behind me. “To be perfectly honest, I fully expected to win. One of the reasons I did this was a test of your abilities. My grand plan was to give you an example of what a real race was like, beat you, and push you into trying easier opponents before building back up to challenge me, this time with even more skill and confidence so that I could go all out. I never expected to lose, especially not so early in your growth.” She let out a little laugh. “So much for that. I hate to lose. I should be more bummed out, but somehow I just can’t feel that way. I guess I’m just too happy for you.” She pulled me onto her lap, giving me a strong hug. “You better not think you’re hot stuff now, kid. If you think you’re going to have it so easy the next time you’re sorely mistaken.” “I know that!” I said, holding her back. “The same goes for you!” I stood back up, now feeling it. “I won! I did it! I WON!!!!!” I hopped around in joy, just enjoying my victory as happy tears came down my eyes. I got into a group hug with Sweetie Belle and Applebloom, each of us cheering. Rose Blossom joined in, and I threw her on my back to join in on our merriment before running over to Star Gazer and Cloud Hunter and hugging them too. “Party?” Asked Pinkie Pie. “Party? Party party party party party party?” I was about to say yes, when I suddenly felt my happiness leave me. My throat felt tight, and I knew there was something I had to do. “Not…n-not now. I…I have to go tell somepony of my victory.” I noticed some of them look around, probably wondering who else there was to tell, as everyone important was already there. Applebloom was one of the ones who didn’t. She came over and hugged me, saying, “Tell yer grandmare we said hi.” Of course she would get it. Her parents were both dead, so she was probably used to going to tell them about important things. “Rainbow Dash, would you come with me?” “Of course, Scootaloo.” She said. “Mom?” “Yes?” “Would you take my scooter home? I don’t think it’s respectful to be riding around in a cemetery.” “Alright. Will you be okay?” “Yeah…but I think we should save the party until tomorrow.” “Okie-dokie-lokie.” Pinkie Pie said. “I’ll have everything set up.” The two of us flew away towards the cemetery. Tears were coming down my eyes as I struggled to keep my composure so I could fly. Rainbow Dash told me to just sit on her back and let her do the flying. I didn’t have the strength to argue. This was the first time I had gone to visit. I had been focusing myself so exclusively on myself and what I was working toward that I didn’t want to go to her grave. I didn’t want to get distracted. I wanted to accomplish her final wish for me, and not just cry over her all the time. But…today…now…I knew it was finally time. I couldn’t put it off any longer. When we arrived at the cemetery I got off her back and began walking. With a little help from someone who worked there I found her grave. As I stared at the name Peach Cobbler, I felt my breaths shortening, my legs weakening. I collapsed on the ground, and just let my emotions run free. I cried my eyes out, once more feeling the loss of my biggest supporter. I wouldn’t have anything if it hadn’t been for her. If she hadn’t found me…if she hadn’t took me in…if she hadn’t raised me so lovingly…I wouldn’t have become the pony I was now. That couldn’t be denied. Somewhere along my crying fit Rainbow Dash sat down next to me, putting a wing around me. I turned to her, burying my face in her chest and hugging her around the neck. When I was finally able to settle myself down I gently pulled myself away from Rainbow Dash. I got back on my feet, feeling loads better. I had grieved properly, and now I was ready for the real reason I had come. I nuzzled her gravestone, before closing my eyes and picturing her in my mind. That kind, loving grandmarely look. “Hello, Grandmare.” I said, a smile on my face. “It’s me, Scootaloo. I’m sorry I haven’t come to visit more often, but I’ve been working really hard on my life and finding ways to make you proud. I had my big race against Rainbow Dash today, and I won! At first I almost ruined it by being stupid, but Rainbow Dash helped snap me out of it. Now I have a fantastic and fun memory. “I may have accomplished your final wish for me, but I’m nowhere near done. I can pause to enjoy my victories and accomplishments, but I can’t sit still too long. There’s still way too many goals ahead that I have to achieve. “I got my cutie mark. It’s a scooter. No surprise there huh? I might as well be named Scooter-loo.” I laughed at my own joke. “I also have the family I thought I’d never have. The parents of the baby I saved took me in. So now I have a mom and dad and a little sister. “And I got to fight off a dragon and help protect the whole town. “So much has happened to me since you died. I’ve grown so much and learned a lot. And I owe all it to you and the ponies around me, who have helped me every step of the way. “Thank you for everything, Grandmare. I will love you forever!” Feeling perkier as we left I asked Rainbow Dash if we could just fly for a while. The two of us left the ground, flying into the air. I felt the cool breeze and the warmth of the sun as we just flew casually. No racing or trying to get ahead. Just enjoying the day together. The two of us were flying side by side as equals, just as I’d always dreamed. Side by side in the sun, just as she had wanted for me. We both smiled at each other for a second, before I lost air, wobbling as I stained to keep airborne, forcing myself back up to her level. “Sorry.” I said, panting. “That race really wiped me out.” Rainbow looked at me for a moment more, still struggling, before she did a backwards loop, flying up to set me on her back for the second one. “You just had an exhausting race against Rainbow Dash, and you beat her at that. You don’t have to ACT tough, kid. You ARE tough. You took on a dragon by yourself, and laughed when you were told your injuries from that might be permanent. You don’t get much tougher than that. “Have some rest, Scootaloo. You’ve earned it.” She looked at me with pride. I let out a small sigh as I folded my weary wings. I had won that race, but by accident. Even if Rainbow Dash blamed herself for it, I still feel like she would have won if it hadn’t been for that. At least, it would have been a lot closer. One day I’d beat her for real! No tricks. No accidents. I’d defeat her with my skill alone and beat her out for the best athlete in Equestria. And then we’d compete over that title for the rest of our lives, each of us doing our best to outdo the other. It promised to be a real fun and exciting life with my rival and sister. A big smile pulled at my lips as I thought about it, having intense contests like the one we had had today. I couldn’t wait for it. I’d prove the worth that Rainbow Dash saw in me. However, that was still a few years in the future, when I had more practice and got a lot better. For now… Get some rest, Scootaloo. I laid my head on her neck, feeling so tired and starting to doze off, the sun feeling so warm. Rest. Yes, that sounded good.
  8. The Last Goodbye My name is Jill. I’m 12 and in the 6th grade. I have brown hair and black eyes. I consider myself an average girl with average tastes. I want to tell you about my best friend. Our first meeting was most amusing. I first met him last year. I was rushing to my next class. I hadn’t zipped my backpack all the way, and my books all came spilling out all over. He was the only one who helped me out. Everyone else just kept walking or laughed. I thanked him for his help when we were done. “So what’s your name, hero?” I had asked kindly. “I don’t know about hero, but my name is Jack.” He looked perplexedly at me as I started cracking up, laughing hard. “What’s so funny about that?” I thought that the only way it could be funnier is if his name was Romeo. Hmmm…I take that back. It wouldn’t have been funny at all then, because my name isn’t Juliet. “Hi, Jack. I’m Jill.” He fixed me with an annoyed look, like I was messing with him. “What’s wrong with you? It was your job to bring the pails today! How are we supposed to get water now?” We both shared a nice laugh at that. He had a good sense of humor. He always knew how to make me laugh whenever I was down. I was very comfortable in his presence. There was never anything more than friendship between us. No romance, no kissing. Not even any flirting. We got along like a brother and sister. And fought like them, too. Hee hee. Not really. We mostly did our best to annoy each other rather than actually fighting. One of our favorite methods of doing that was playing to see who could get in the last word. Whenever we’d separate one of us would say goodbye, than the other would say it back, and so on and so forth until we either got bored, or we really had to go. We mostly did it over the phone, because it was the easiest way to win. Just say it and hang up. We sometimes did phone tag in that fashion, but while I learned my lesson about picking up the phone again, Jack never seemed to. We never played through texts. Try explaining to your parents that you racked up a one thousand dollar cell phone bill saying nothing but back and forth goodbyes and let’s see how fine your bottom would feel the next day. It was strange. Even though there was never anything romantic between us…he just felt like a boyfriend. One of the reasons was that Jack, no matter how many games we played, NEVER ever won any of them. I always managed to get in the last word, so I knew that he was letting me win. I never said anything to him about it. I thought it was cute. I’d also say that he was quite handsome. Even if I didn’t care about him in that way, when you spend so much time around someone it’s hard not to start taking in all the little things about them. Another reason was that he never seemed to hang out with anybody else besides me. We weren’t in the same classes, but we’d often pass each other through the day. We did share lunch together, though. And I never saw him hang out with any guy friends or sit with any other girls during this time. Since we lived pretty close to the school and each other we would just walk home together. We would always go to my house first, of course, because what kind of man would let a young lady walk home by herself? We’d do our homework, have a snack, and just hang out for a while until it was time for him to go home for dinner. I admired him for all his help. I had been an average student at school, but Jack understood most of the subjects better than I did. The way he explained things made more sense usually than what was in our textbooks, and I saw my grades start going up a bit. Sometimes I would visit over his house, but not as often, and, ever the gentleman, he would walk me back home afterword. I felt the luckiest girl in the world to have a true friend. It didn’t matter that he was a boy. He understood me a lot better than anyone else did. And the fact that he never tried pushing our relationship from friendship to a romance ensured I never had to have my guard up. By unspoken consent we never involved each other in pure girl or pure boy activities. I never invited him to put on make-up, and he never asked me to watch wrestling. Our relationship worked just fine as it was. I’d like to say I loved him, but…I mean, how does a girl go about saying she loves a boy without someone thinking it has to be romantic? I guess I should say I adored him…or idolized him. I guess the closest I can explain it is the way a young boy would look up to a superhero. One Thursday after school we were walking home together like usual, just talking about stupid stuff, and I had that feeling again: that feeling of just being so grateful to have a priceless friend. Things at my house have been tight the past few years with the bad economy, and my parents have been struggling. My father was let go because of layoffs at his previous job. He had gotten some decent part-time jobs since then but he was always looking for a way to move up to a good full time job again. Because I knew the troubles they were having I never told them about the loneliness I had been feeling at home. I didn’t have any real friends at the time. I was the quiet, shy type, and I had trouble talking to people. But ever since Jack came into my life I’d had a good friend to play with, and the sun finally showed itself again in my heart. My parents enjoyed our relationship, as it allowed them to focus all their energy on finding steady jobs with better pay, and the fact that my grades were going up and I had a true friend made them feel better about how much work they were doing. Suddenly I found myself back in reality as Jack was waving his hand up and down by my face. “Hellooooo? Anybody home in there?” Though I had told Jack just about everything of my personal life I kept silent about my feelings about him, mainly because I couldn’t find strong enough words to describe it. I wanted to give him more than a thank you, but I also didn’t want to embarrass him. “Sorry. I was spacing out a bit.” I gave him a smile. “What were you saying?” When we arrived at my house he apologized, saying he had to get home to help his dad with some yard work, so he couldn’t stay today. “Oh, okay.” I said, feeling down now. “See you tomorrow.” “Yeah. Goodbye.” As he started walking away I called out, “Goodbye.” He raised his arm and shook his hand in a “see ya” kind of way, and let it go. “How boring!” I cried out after him. “You didn’t even try this time.” I sighed and went back in the house. My mom was sitting at the kitchen table, filling out applications as usual. I talked with her for a few minutes about school and then made myself a small snack of milk and Oreos. Before I even started the phone rang. My mother looked at me expectantly since she was busy, so I put down the cookie in my hand and picked up the phone. “Hello?” “Goodbye!” Said a familiar voice, then there was a click on the other end. “OH!” I stomped my foot in annoyance, slamming the phone on the receiver. He’d done that sort of thing before after leaving for the day, so usually I check the caller ID before picking up. I picked the phone back up and dialed his house. It rang three times before he picked up and said, “Hello?” “GOODBYE!” I said smugly, and hung up. I laughed to myself, feeling better now, waiting to see if he would call back. But I didn’t think he would. He never did. I noticed my mom staring at me. “What is it, Mom?” My mom shook her head and laughed. “Geez, it’s been over six months now. Don’t you two ever get tired of playing that game?” “Not really...” The next day was normal. Waking up, going to school, doing work, lunch. But after school, though I had lunch with Jack that day, I didn’t see him anywhere around. Him not being there made me feel lonesome. I didn’t like the break in the usual pattern. It gave me a bad feeling in my tummy. I waited ten minutes in case he had been delayed, and then resigned myself to walking home alone. I’m only about ten blocks from the school so it usually only takes about twenty minutes. It’s a simple walk, but I do have to go through two main roads. It’s usually not that busy. Unfortunately there are no traffic lights around, unless I wanted to add another ten blocks to the walk. When I came upon the first main road I saw someone across the street standing by a tree, almost out of sight. He came out from behind it and I saw that it was Jack. He was looking at me arrogantly, and I couldn’t figure out why. He cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled out “GOODBYE!” He stuck out his tongue at me, turned around and patted his butt, and then went running. HE WAS DEAD! I wanted to run after him, but with the traffic I was stuck there for another few minutes. I spent those minutes fuming and planning a nasty revenge. When I was finally able to cross I was furious. By this time Jack was probably already home. Though in all our silly little games he had let me win, I was surprised that he would go to such lengths to get his first victory. That cheap way of getting ahead, and the fact that he wasn’t walking with me, made me feel lonely and upset. “Stupid boy!” I said loudly to myself. I sighed. “One more block to go, just to wait another five minutes to cross another intersection.” My feeling of unhappiness and loneliness were getting to me. I could feel the desire to cry right there on the side of the road. My head was down, and I wasn’t paying attention, so I walked right into the back of someone and almost fell down. “Sorry!” I said quickly, blushing and unable to look up. “It’s okay.” Said a jovial voice. I tensed and looked up quickly to see the smiling face of Jack. “I’m not much of a runner. Too tiring. Besides, my walk felt pretty boring without someone to share it with.” I couldn’t help letting a few tears fall down. I knew he could have easily have left me behind with how long it took me to cross, but he had deliberately slowed down and waited for me. All my anger had disappeared. I just felt so much relief to have him there with me as usual. The world had gone right again. Jack looked at me worriedly. “Are you alright? Why are you crying, Sis?” I let out a choked laugh. Our little pet names for each other: “Sis” and “Bro”. Terms we only used when we knew it was time to be serious with each other. Once more I wanted to do it, to hug him tight and tell him how much he meant to me, but as usual I couldn’t. The words just wouldn’t come. Though we were the same age, he never seemed that way to me. He felt just like a protective older brother to me. Always teasing me, but letting me win. Making jokes about me, but always there to listen when I’d had a bad day. And today, when I needed it the most, right when I felt like sobbing, he was there for me as usual. “You jerk!” I cried out, pushing him hard and making him stumble back a few steps. “You dirty rotten cheater! What makes you think you can play that way! Huh?” I had meant to sound joking, and expected the game would begin again, but I guess I must have sounded pretty upset because his face became really sad. He walked up to me, putting his arms around me and holding me close to him, one of only three times he had done so. The other two times had been after some particularly bad days where it just seemed like everything possible had gone wrong. “’I’m sorry, Sis. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I thought you would find it funny. I didn’t think the game meant that much to you.” Tears were coming down my eyes again, because I knew I had upset him for no reason. “I…I don’t care about the game.” I said, sniffling. I held him back. “I…I…” Finally, I worked up the courage to say some of what had been on my mind for so long. “I was just missing you a lot. You’re my best friend. It doesn’t feel right when you’re not there.” His body tensed, and he got unnaturally quiet. After a long silence he said, “You should know that no matter how far ahead of you I get, I’ll always slow down enough to let you catch up…because I love you, Sis.” I couldn’t hold it in this time. I started sobbing right there in his arms. I didn’t care who was around, who would see us, what people would say; I just bawled like a baby in the arms of my protector. I buried my head in his chest and he kept silent, just letting me stay in the safety of his arms until I calmed down. When I finally got my emotions under control I came out from my shield and wiped my eyes. “Thank you.” I told him. “Thank you so much for everything. I love you too, Bro.” Jack looked at me contently, and put his hand out. I took it immediately, feeling my chest full to bursting with love. We had only walked a short way when I pulled him to a stop. “I have to tell you something, but I’m scared of what will happen if I do.” “You know you can tell me anything. I’m here for you.” I looked into his eyes, those eyes full of joy and compassion, like a parent looking at their newborn child, and I felt butterflies in my tummy. “I…I care a lot about you. And…you know, you made my life a lot better after I met you. I used to just spend all my time in my room after school, feeling so alone and miserable. My parents didn’t have a lot of time to spend with me. It wasn’t their fault. It’s not like they wanted my dad to lose his good job. And…” I turned away. My face started going red. “I just want to say that…that…you’re the best friend that anybody could ever have. You’ve done everything you can to help me, and I really appreciate it. It means a lot to me having somebody great like you around. I…I started crying before because I just felt so scared walking home by myself. Not because I felt scared of getting hurt or abducted or run over or anything like that. I was scared because you weren’t there, like you always have been. It just got me thinking of what my life was like before I met you.” Jack put his other hand on my face and wiped away the tears dripping down. “You’re very welcome for everything. I couldn’t ask for a better friend either. But why did it scare you so much to tell me that?” “I…I was scared that it would change things between us, or make you uncomfortable, or make you not want to be around me anymore.” “Nothing could do that. You’re a great person, Sis. And…see?” He put his open hands out in a welcoming manner and said, “I’m still here. Nothing’s changed, except for me feeling happier now that you are.“ That put a big grin on my face. “Come on, now. We have to get you to your house before your mom starts to worry.” I sniffed one last time and just hugged him again. “Thank you so much!” I said before letting go. “Goodbye.” He said teasingly, leisurely jogging away from me. He was going so slow I could have caught up walking fast. I narrowed my eyes, over my sadness now and in a playful mood. I started running to him, and then he sped up too. “Goodbye.” I called out. “Good-good-goody bye.” He said in a sing-songy way. We chased each other around just saying our goodbyes. I was starting to get tired and panting slightly so I charged after him one final time. He turned his head to me, still running, and stuck out his tongue, saying, “Goodbye.” “Goodbye!” Fixated on our game now he wasn’t looking at what was ahead of him. As he kept going I suddenly noticed the hedges at the house on the left and after that the cars going by in the road. “Jack, stop!” “Come and make me!” “I’m not joking! Stop!” I had stopped dead, begging. At the look on my face he tried to stop, his momentum still carrying him forward. He stopped two steps off the sidewalk just as I heard the beeping of a horn. My heart stopped as I heard an impact and Jack’s body went flying through the air. He landed a few seconds later, his body spinning through several rotations before stopping. I felt totally immobile, disbelieving of what I had just seen. My eyes were wide, my legs shaking. I wanted to collapse. Finally, I felt myself moving automatically. A small crowd of people were already gathering. The driver of the car who had hit him was on their hands and knees crying, saying, “I didn’t see him. I couldn’t see him coming. I couldn’t stop in time.” Someone else was on the phone, calling for an ambulance. Several other people were trying to figure out the damage and make Jack comfortable. I pushed my way through the crowd, and got on my knees in front of Jack. His eyes were open halfway but unfocused and dead looking. I grabbed his hand. “Jack! Jack!” Tears were streaming down my cheeks. “Please don’t die! You…you can’t die! Wake up! Please!” One of the people there told me not to get my hopes up. She clearly took no joy in saying that. I looked at her hands, holding a jacket under Jack’s head. I could see blood staining the ground. I was about to break down and lose it entirely but then I felt a weak squeeze. I looked back to Jack’s face. So quietly I almost couldn’t hear he said, “Don’t…cry…Sis.” His eyes were still glossy and bleary, but he was conscious. His eyes were closing as his head turned. I held his hand tightly. “No! No! Please! You can’t die! If you die…if you die…” I felt like something was squeezing my heart. “I…I…” My heart felt like it was shattering. “I’ll be all alone again! I can’t stand it!” “Sis…” This was even quieter than his first sentence. I put my head right by his mouth to hear what he had to say. “…Hello.” I pulled away from him disconcertedly, not understanding what he was trying to tell me. That was the last word I got out of him. The ambulance pulled up shortly, and I pleaded with them to let me come, too. I sat in the back of that truck, feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders as they worked. When we got to the emergency room Jack was taken away, and I found myself alone, alone like I hadn’t been in a long time. It felt overwhelming. I didn’t have a cell phone so I asked the receptionist to use the phone so I could call my parents. I needed someone with me to help me while I waited. The phone rang four times. I was starting to get worried when I suddenly heard the greeting on the other side. “Mom, its Jill.” I don’t know why my voice was so steady, when my body felt like it was going to explode. “Jill! I’m so glad you called. All our hard work paid off! Your father just got an offer for a huge banking firm and he starts tomorrow. This is going to throw all our money troubles away. Me and your father are so happy right now we’re having a little party. There hasn’t been much to celebrate recently. “So where are you? You’re usually here by now. The party’s not complete without you. Are you coming home soon?” My body twitched. I felt a tear come down. I put my hand over my heart. My voice wouldn’t work. How could I tell them? How could I tell them I was at a hospital because my best friend had been struck by a car and I felt thoroughly destroyed inside? How could I tell them, and ruin the first real joy they’d had in years? “Jill?” Said my mother from the other end. “Are you still there? Hello...Jill?” “I…I’m sorry, Mom. I’m…I’m really happy f-f-for you.” “Jill, are you okay?” Now she sounded worried. “You sound upset. You fighting with your friend?” “N-no.” I couldn’t hold it back anymore. I knew I was about to break down. My breathing was speeding up, the world seemed so topsy-turvy, the room felt like it was starting to spin, and I had a split-second to decide what I was going to do. I slammed the phone back on the receiver. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t tell her. I went and sat back in my seat, crying hard and just hugging myself. Two women waiting for their child to be admitted tried to talk to me and comfort me, but I paid them no mind. I don’t know how long I sat there, all by my lonesome, and just cried my head off. I jolted when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I was about to tell the person to shove off when I looked up into the face of my parents. My dad pulled me onto his lap, and my mother sat down next to me. “H-how…” I started, but I just started crying again. My mom said, “You sounded quite sad at the end of our call. After you hung up I went to call back and as it redialed I recognized the number from the hospital. We called up and asked if either you or Jack had been in some kind of accident, and when she said yes we knew that you’d be here.” “Why didn’t you tell us?” Asked my dad. I had been crying quite hard but, although I felt too old for it, being on my dad’s lap with his arms around me made me feel a little better. “Because you finally got a good job and were happy. I didn’t want to ruin your celebration. Ow!” My cheek was stinging from the slight slap my dad gave me. Tears were coming down his eyes too. “I don’t want to ever hear you use that kind of excuse again, you understand me? We’re your parents, not your friends. This is the sort of thing that we need to be told. Did you think we’d still be happy about having that party when you told us later on that you decided to spend this time all alone and miserable instead of asking us for help?” I sniffed. “I’m sorry, Daddy!” I inhaled sharply. “I’m so sorry!” He closed his eyes and held me tightly. “It’s okay, sweetheart. I know you had good intentions, but there is always time to party another day. This is happening right now. And…we’re sorry.” “For what?” I asked. My mom responded, “Because we know we haven’t been good parents to you lately. We need money to live on, but it should never come at the expense of you. We shouldn’t have pushed you to the background and expected you to bear everything on your own, especially because we know that you’ve had trouble making friends.” My dad continued, “It became especially clear by what you just said to us. We’ve become so useless for you to rely on that you couldn’t even tell us you were hurting when you needed us the most. But that’s all going to change. We’re going to be there for you, and be the parents we should have been these past few years.” I felt my daddy all around me, and he gave me a kiss on my forehead. I kinda felt like a little kid again, just glad to have some support with me. I closed my eyes, and just held onto him. “I love you, Daddy.” “I love you too, Jill.” We sat there, together as a family, as the seconds turned to minutes, the minutes turned to hours, and, maybe, the hours turning into days in the endless wait. Something suddenly came to me. “Did you call Jack’s parents?” My mom sighed. “Yes, we did.” “And they’re not coming?” I said with a trace of anger. “No one was home when we called. We left a message.” “Oh.” More time passed, and a harried looking couple ran in, looking frantically around. I raised my hand and shook it, and Jack’s parents ran over. I was still sitting in my dad’s lap. I wasn’t going to leave it willingly. I had missed having the attention of my parents. “Jill, what happened?” Asked Jack’s mom. “We were running around chasing each other, and he was looking back at me instead of where he was going, and ran into the edge of the street as a car went to make a turn.” Jack’s dad put his head in his hands. His parents held each other and he hesitated as if he couldn’t bear to ask the question, but, “Is it bad?” “I think so.” It’s funny how I didn’t feel that scared anymore. There was just something about having my parents there for me that made it seem not so frightening, and made me believe a little more that things would be fine. “I know his head was bleeding, but I don’t know how bad it really is.” “I see…” The two sat down in the chairs next to us, but then his dad stood back up to talk to the nurse at the reception desk, to make them aware that the parents were there, and to see if they could get a status update. The five of us sat there together, just wondering what was coming next. Ten minutes later a doctor came over and asked which people were the parents. Jack’s mom and dad replied that it was them. Looking at them he said in a somber voice, “I’m very sorry, but your son didn’t make it. He’s dead.” DEAD! DEAD DEAD DEAD DEAD DEAD DEAD DEAD! It felt like the word was echoing in my heart. I thought it would be enough that my parents were by my side. I thought it was impossible he would die, because he would stay alive to be there for me. Me and Jack’s parents all broke down bawling at the news. My parents, not knowing Jack as well as we did, were more restrained. Their sadness was mainly because of my sadness. After a time I jumped up and said, “I want to see him!” His parents stood up and agreed. With the help of one of the workers we were directed to Jack’s room. I felt strangely detached as I saw Jack’s body. His head was wrapped up. His eyes were closed. There was a blanket over him covering everything except his head. I walked over to him. My father at first put his hand on my shoulder to stop me, but changed his mind. I moved the blanket and uncovered one of his hands. I took his hand in both of mine. I expected it to feel cold, but there was still some warmth in it, like he knew I would come and had saved it for me. I started sobbing again, holding my head against our hands. I half expected him to come back to life just for one last comforting gesture, but he was unresponsive. He wasn’t there anymore. Not the person I remembered. The next day was horrible. I was bedridden. I couldn’t muster any energy at all. Not to go to school, not to eat, not to go to the bathroom, not even to cry. I just spent hour after hour on my side with the blanket over me. I couldn’t find any reason to go on. My best friend was gone. Dead! And it felt like he had taken my heart with him into the grave. Sure, my parents had promised to be better, but who knew if it was really true? What if it was all going to be exactly the way it was before? Back to lonely walks home. Back to being sad and alone in my room every day. My mom was the only other one home. She let me be most of the day. In the afternoon she came in with a tray of food. “I brought you some lunch, Honey.” “I don’t want it.” I said blankly. “I’m not hungry.” She walked over by my side of the bed. “Now, Sweetheart, I know you’re not feeling good, but you need to eat or-” “I said I don’t want it!” I interrupted, my temper flaring as I slapped the tray out of her hands. It made a mess all over the floor. My mother didn’t react, just rubbed my head a little, and walked away. She came back a minute later with a dustpan and cleaned up. She came over and kissed my forehead. “I love you, Jill.” She said quietly, and then turned to exit. As she started walking away I shot up. I didn’t want her to leave. I didn’t want to be alone now. “Wait!” She stopped and turned towards me. “I’m…I’m sorry. I’m sorry! Please…please…” Tears came down my eyes as I cried out in a broken voice, “Please stay with me.” I begged. “I need you!” She came back over and sat down next to me on the bed. Acting childish again I sat on her lap, facing her, and we just hugged each other for a while. “I know how much he meant to you.” Said my mom. “I know you feel like there’s a black hole inside your heart right now, but I’m here for you my sweet child.” I closed my eyes, feeling so grateful she wasn’t mad. “Why?” I cried out, my voice cracking as I sobbed. “Why did it have to be him? Why did he die?” My mom gently rubbed my back as she said softly, “I don’t know, Honey. I can’t answer that. But I’m not going anywhere. You need me now, so here is where I’ll stay.” “T-thank you.” I cried out, feeling just a tiny bit better. My dad came back from his first day of work at six. Truthfully, he had wanted to stay home with me, but he couldn’t afford to call out on his very first day. I just cried and talked and asked for their assistance, and they gave it. It took some of the pain away having them there for me. Maybe things really did change. Maybe they really were different now. If that was the case than I could depend on them, and not have to work on everything by myself. The next few days were a blur. I barely remember anything of the wake or the funeral. A lot of my fellow students were there. Most of them offered me lots of sympathy. They knew how close we were. They asked if I needed anything, if I would like to come to their houses sometime, but at the time I couldn’t respond to them. Before I knew it a month had gone by since the incident. I was still aching a lot deep inside. I was prone to crying fits at school. Every day I walked home from school, alone, I felt like the world was so big, and me so small. The only thing that kept me going was what Jack would wish for me if he could speak to me from where he was. My parents were helpful at home, and quite a few people had taken to engaging me at school, attempting to coax me out of my despair, but it just wasn’t the same. I missed him so bad it hurt. I had put it off for quite a while, but I decided to go visit his grave. I asked Jack’s parents for directions. They offered to take me there, as they felt like going that day, but I asked them not to. I needed to go alone. As I stared at the gravestone…it just made it feel so real to me. His absence at times made it seem like he was just very sick, or on vacation, or, possibly even worse, avoiding me. Here, staring at the name engraved on the stone, it made the fact undeniable. I fell to my knees, holding myself as I sobbed onto the grass. “Why?” I gasped out. “Why? You stupid jerk! Why didn’t you just take a win to the grave? You should have won our last game.” Over the course of replaying the events of that day over and over, especially his cryptic last word, I finally understood why he had said it. He didn’t want to say our magic word. If he did then died afterword he would finally have had a victory, but he had always wanted to give it to me. But, even more than that, I’m certain that he just couldn’t stand the thought of saying goodbye to me. Saying “Hello” was his way of telling me that he would survive and come back to me. But that didn’t happen. It hadn’t been enough. I’d only been there less than five minutes, but I stood up. I had to leave. My heart felt like it was being torn open again. As I walked away I said with finality, “Goodbye!” It took quite a while before I was able to break Jack’s hold on my heart, and really allow myself to let other people in. I relied a lot on my parents during that time. Though I felt it was useless I asked several of the people at school if I could visit at their houses. I didn’t feel shy about it anymore. It wasn’t like they could make me feel any worse. Compared to what I was suffering inside, asking a question like that paled in comparison. Six months had passed since the death of my hero. I can’t deny that a part of me felt angry with him for leaving me. There was also sadness, despair, heartache, misery. I couldn’t even think of him in any positive way without quickly getting overwhelmed. Focusing on other people was the only thing that helped. It had been slow, but I found that the things I used to be so afraid of weren’t nearly as scary anymore. It took some time, but the girls I asked to hang out with were all friends, and usually hung out in a group. They were very patient with me, gently enticing me out of my depression. Most of them had lost someone they cared about too. They encouraged me to cry if I needed to. They also tried to get me to talk about him, I guess because they thought it would help, but I wasn’t ready for that yet. Memories of Jack simply made me sad because I knew there could never be any new memories with him. Our time together had been so short. With the help of my parents and my new friends I felt like my heart wasn’t sitting quite so heavy on my spirit anymore. I’d smiled a few times since then, had some fun, but I hadn’t laughed yet. One day when I came home from school I found Jack’s parents sitting on the couch. “What are you doing here?” I asked politely. “Jill, there’s something we’d like to give you.” Said Jack’s dad. “What is it?” I asked. “Well, we don’t have the heart to remove Jack’s room entirely, but we were finally ready to go through his room and throw out garbage, find clothes to donate, and so on and so on. And we found something that we think would interest you.” He went in a bag and pulled out what looked like a school composition notebook. I walked over and took it. It had my name on it. “That was in a drawer in his room. At first we thought you might have left it at the house one day, or he borrowed it, so we wanted to return it to you if you needed it. I dropped it while I was going to put in in a bag, and it opened up to a page with a photo that was clipped out of a magazine. I won’t say what was on it, that’s for you to see yourself, but I’ll tell you that what was on the photo was the same as what he had in his pocket the day he died. And what he wrote was quite interesting.” I wasn’t sure what this all was about. A photo of what? What had he written? “Um…is that it?” “No. In this bag is something else we think he’d want you to have. “Thank you very much for spending your time with our son. He very much enjoyed your company, and loved having you as a friend. He’d had a little trouble making friends as well. But after some time with you he seemed a lot more confident and outgoing.” I didn’t know what to say besides, “Thank you.” I realized that they had to have had a harder time with Jack’s death than I did, so I felt pretty awkward. Thanking me again, they bid me farewell. They got in their car and left, and I took the bag and the book to my room and lay down on my stomach on my bed. I wondered why I felt so nervous. My heart felt like it was racing. It couldn’t just be a schoolbook. As I browsed through the book I found out why it had my name on it: It was all about me. It was a journal describing our time together. The first few pages had pages taped to other pages, as though he had torn them out of another notebook. After that though, it looked normal. As I flipped through random pages certain sentences seemed to jump out at me and stay in my mind long after I closed my eyes to process what I was reading. “Jill is sad today. She cried on my shoulder because some girls did their best to make a mess of her brand new dress.” “Jill came over again today. I don’t know why, but she seems much more relaxed around me than with anyone else. I haven’t seen her playing with anyone else, so it seems like I’m her only friend. If that’s the case then I’ll make damn sure I’m the best friend she could ever have.” “Hung out with Jill again. She sure is pretty, but she’s much more like a sister to me than a girlfriend. I’m an only child, so maybe that’s why I feel so happy having a sister, even if it is only for a few hours a day.” “Jill had a bad day. At school she dropped her favorite book in a mud puddle. She started crying as she held the muddy mess. I had been saving money for a new video game, but I spent it to buy her a new copy just to put a smile back on her face. The joy in her eyes and the huge smile on her face as she hugged it close to her was worth more than all the video games in the world.” “Walked Jill home again. It makes me feel so mature. Heh heh. It seems like I’m the only person there for her. Whenever I have to leave she gets such a sad look on her face I just want to hug her.” “For a while now we’ve been playing this silly game of who can get the last word in. At first I played seriously, feeling like a guy and wanting to win. But…after a few more games I was much happier just letting her have the win. I feel like she has enough problems in her life, and hoped it would make her feel special if there was one thing she was always good at.” I had to stop reading for quite a while after reading that last one. It confirmed something I had known for a while, but his reason for doing it was what really touched my heart. I enjoyed having his words and feelings with me, even if his body was not. “Jill told me today that she doesn’t get much attention from her parents because they’re pretty poor and trying to make a better life for her. I asked her one time if she ever played with anyone else, and her eyes got that sad look I hate, and she told me she doesn’t have any other friends. I wanted to cheer her up, so I tickled her. It was hilarious. She was squealing and trying to get away and laughing her head off. When I put that smile back on her face, I felt like I was a good person.” “I’ve come to really enjoy the routine with my “sister.” I guess we’re more than just friends now. We’re related. It really seems to make Jill happy when I call her that, so I usually do it when it seems like she’s upset, because it always seems to do the trick. I just think she needs someone to talk to and listen to her. I don’t mind. I like what I do for her.” “I was sick today. My stomach felt like it was going to explode. My head was on fire. I slept most of the school day away. Even though I still felt terrible when I woke up I decided to go to the school to walk her home because I didn’t want her to feel lonely on the way there.” I had to stop again. I pushed the book away and just cried a little. I remembered that day. Jack looked like he was ready to pass out, but he was there, just as I started to feel the loneliness of the upcoming walk. And it did make me happy that he had pushed himself so hard for me. I flipped ahead to the last entry, where I saw the photo his parent’s had talked about. It looked like a bracelet. I grabbed the bag and put my hands in, and pulled out a small jewelry box. I opened it up. Not surprisingly it was the same thing as in the photo. I took it out, and put it on. It was a set of hearts side by side, each connected to the next by the sides, and made a circle. Attached to it was another tiny heart that could take a wallet sized photo. That’s when I noticed the words on this particular page. “I know that it’s just a scam, but still I’ll believe in its power. After you put on this bracelet you have to put in a picture of someone you care for. “ I stopped reading and looked at the tiniest heart. I opened the little slot and I saw my own face staring back at me. It wasn’t weird or anything. We’d exchanged pictures before. “They say this heart bracelet can grant one wish for the person in the photo. It’s so pointless but…but what if it does work?” A wish… “After putting in the photo you have to close the heart and just rub your fingers all around it in circles like five hundred times while thinking of your wish and the persons face and keep it on you for a week. Then the person you made a wish for will have that wish granted. “If the wish were for me alone I wouldn’t have even bought it. But if by chance there really is some magic in this little piece of jewelry, than I know what I want to wish for for her. “I wish she would make some more friends than just me, so she can have other people to play with on the days I can’t be there. I wish her parents would get the dream job they’ve been looking for and pay more attention to her, so that way I don’t ever have to see that heartbroken look on her face when I have to go home, like I’m leaving behind a poor defenseless puppy. I wish…that she’d always be happy. “It’s all so ridiculous. So why did I even buy it? Well, I guess I’m still enough of a kid to want to believe a little in miracles, and if there’s any girl I know of who deserves a miracle, it’s Jill. So, luck gods and miracle gods, could you please have a little look at my sister? She needs some help badly.” That was the end of it. I looked at the date at the top: April 21st. Jack…died on the 28th. And…and that was the day that my dad got his new job, and my parents…said they were going to be there for me again. And…now I have lots of other friends. So…so….I’m not lonely anymore like I used to be. His wish…my wish…it came true! I cried, but with a smile on my face this time. As I lay down and just thought of the amazing things that had happened since the day of Jack’s accident I couldn’t help but wonder…I lifted up my arm and looked at the bracelet made of hearts. If he hadn’t gotten hit that day then we would have had a little party to celebrate my dad’s new job. Knowing that his wish for me came true…what would he have done with the bracelet? I couldn’t see him wearing it around because it looked too girly. Would he have just thrown it out once its magic was used up? Would he have kept it in a drawer at home, just in case? Or… Ba-bmp. Ba-bmp. Or…maybe he would have given it to me? Would he have told me about the wish, or would he have just given it to me and told me he had been thinking of me? Ba-bmp! Ba-bmp! I pictured that idea in my head, feeling something strange in my tummy. He comes up to me holding the bracelet and says, “Here, Jill. I got you a present. It’s a special gift for you.” I take it gratefully as he snaps it onto my wrist. I had been looking down, but when he’s done we both look up at each other at the same time, and our eyes meet. I see his magnificent smile, just like the day I told him how much I cared for him. “Thank you, Jack. That’s so sweet of you.” BA-BMP BA-BMP BA-BMP BA-BMP! “Well, I have something else just as sweet that’s just for you.” He comes closer and closer as I stand there frozen. His lips pucker up as he’s just a few inches away. I automatically push my lips out and I close the remaining distance. Our lips are a hairs breadth apart and- I shot up, breathing hard. I shook my head hard, getting rid of the last of my daydream. “What’s wrong with me? I’m sick. That’s my brother.” A voice in the back of my head said bluntly, “No he isn’t. You just liked to call each other that. There’s nothing wrong with it.” Before this I had never ever thought of Jack in any kind of romantic way, and I think it was the same for him about me. I let out a heavy breath, looking once more at the hearts with uncertainty. “Well…we, um…really weren’t siblings, but…but…maybe in a few years…when the two of us started to want a boyfriend and girlfriend…” My heart started racing again. Once more I saw Jack in my mind, for some reason looking more attractive to me than he had ever been before. His lips were coming for me all over again. With that strange twinge in my tummy back I decided to just close my eyes, sit back, and let my fantasy play out. When it got to the part it had stopped before I opened my eyes and sat back up. I couldn’t do it. Jack was gone now, so what was the point of thinking about what could never be? Even if we would have someday grown to love each other in a more intimate way, part of me just couldn’t get over the guilt of trying to change the relationship we had had when he died. One of his last words to me had been to call me “Sis.” I couldn’t throw that away. Not for anything in the whole world. I made a new fantasy for his gift giving, one that fit with the Jack I knew and remembered. This time, as our eyes met after he put the bracelet on my wrist, we both smile at each other as I thank him again and give him a big hug. He tells me I deserve it because I’m a great person. And for the rest of the afternoon I glow. Nothing can take the grin off my face as we play together. That was probably how things would have actually gone. I had to take one more trip to the graveyard. I brought the notebook with me and stared at the stone with a new reverence. I walked over and sat down with my legs crossed in front of it. “You…Jack…you just couldn’t leave me alone, could you? Even now, even when your body isn’t here anymore, you still have to look out for me like a big brother, by splitting your love for me into big pieces and giving it to other people so they’d love me and make me feel loved as much as you did. Your wish for me came true. My parents have been a lot happier and have more time for me. And I’ve made several friends who I like to play with. If you kept a notebook all about me than maybe you had been feeling lonely too before you met me, so that’s why you were just as happy looking after me as I was being looked after.” I just sat there, my heart at ease, my eyes closed, knowing he was near. He was all around me. Even without having him here next to me, I know I was helping keep him alive in spirit. He lived on in my heart. I got to my feet and started to say something, and then thought for a moment. No…that game was old. I looked to see if there was anybody around. I was alone. I looked up into the sky and saw the most beautiful blue and white. I sucked in my breath and yelled out, “HEL-LOOO-OOO!” All went quiet for me. “I know you. I know you won’t say hello back, even if I can’t hear you, because you’d want me to know for sure I won our new version of the last word. So I’ll end it there.” I raised my arm and looked at the heart bracelet on my wrist. The last precious memento of the greatest person I had ever known. I vowed to keep it safe forever. Suddenly something curious came to me. In his notebook Jack had said the wish would only come true if the person kept it on them for seven whole days. So, unless he didn’t shower for all that time, that meant that for him to bathe he had to have worn it. I pictured him, a boy, just showering while wearing this bracelet around his wrist, probably with a completely deadpan expression and a deep blush that he was being so unmanly, and laughed to myself, the first time I had laughed since he had died. And once one came another one did. I laughed harder and harder, doubling over, just letting out all the stress that had still been there since his death. That mental image was too hilarious for me to feel sad. I laughed until I couldn’t breathe. I stopped to catch my breath, and then was caught up in another fit of giggles. After repeating this pattern a few times I flopped back and lay down on the grass, panting and just looking up into the sky. “There. You jerk. You got me to laugh again. Are you happy now?” I beamed, hoping he was looking down at me and smiling too, knowing that he didn’t have to worry about me anymore. Pulling myself back into a sitting position I opened Jack’s notebook and began reading again from the beginning. As I read each entry I tried to remember how each of those days went. Even if what he wrote was about something bad that happened to me it didn’t matter. It was still a happy memory, since I had had Jack to help me through it. Even his very last day wasn’t all bad. That prank he pulled on me. Looking back now it was pretty funny. I got to tell him some of my feelings I had, and he had held onto me when I started crying. Even after he had been struck by that car he wasn’t worried about himself. The last thing he had done for me was squeeze my hand and tell me not to cry. He told me hello instead of goodbye so that I wouldn’t be as worried he would leave me. When he died I thought I had lost a part of my heart. I was so scared of what would happen. I wondered if my parents were telling the truth when they promised to be there for me again. Then I found out about Jack’s wish. With just one bracelet he gave me back everything I needed; Both my parents and, as I looked at the heart that had my picture, the piece of my heart I thought I lost. I had felt like giving up for a while after his death, but not anymore. Especially not now. Not when I knew Jack was looking out for me. After maybe an hour, just remembering all the fun times we had shared together, I finally stood up again. In my mind I could almost see Jack standing in front of me, almost feel his arm on my shoulder, see his bright face encouraging me. I could hear his voice in my mind telling me as he wore a silly grin and his fist out, “Go get ‘em, Sis!” I still have a lot of living to do. I still have a lifetime to make the best memories ever with my guardian angel by my side watching it all. I kissed the top of the headstone. “Thank you, Jack…for everything.” And with a grin on my face and a giggle in my heart I said to my friend for the last time…, ”Goodbye.”
  9. It changed so much, my first job I wanted was to be a singer, then a comedian, then a comedian in sitcoms, then an archeologist, then I wanted to be an osteologist to dig up dinosaur bones and the like. Now I have no idea what I want to be, but I wish maybe to be an animator. or maybe voice actor? who knows where life will take me after highschool, and that is soon.
  10. Flicker Sweet

    Red's Farewell

    I tried to put this in a video, but it didn't work. I have been thinking about this for a month now and just had my decision reaffirmed by a reality check with someone who cares for me. I have been having a rough time lately, as you've probably seen form my status updates, with my depression. I am having to reevaluate who I am, who I want to be, and who I am becoming. This is not as easy to do as it sounds. I am used to not having to do things myself and suddenly, now that I've graduated, I have to do many new things on my own. The problem? I never feel that I have time to properly address these problems on any day. I've thought about it for a month now and come to the conclusion that I have taken all of my time and devoted it to this website, among others. My daily routine consists of: wake up get on computer go to work (if applicable) go to bed Notice how there is no "eat lunch" or "take morning shower" in there. I didn't leave them out because they are unsaid routines. I left them out because they are literally not a part of my daily routine anymore. Yes. It is absolutely disgusting. I know. I am, by no means, blaming Feld0, the Forums, or the internet in general for this. I am the only one who had any say in whether this became this way or not. I can only blame myself, and only I can fix it. I need to figure out what is really a priority now in my life. And it isn't an MLP forum that I joined to sate my boredom in a computer class during my Junior year of high school. I am not leaving the forums for good, not right now anyways, but I am going to cut my time on here down from 6-12 hours a day, to around 1-2 hours in the evening. This means, for some of you, that I won't be seen or heard from anymore. I'm sorry, but I have to be selfish here. I love this website, but it can't be my life anymore. comment all your grief/hate on here. My decision is made. If I trusted you enough to add you on Skype, then you may contact me there. Please don't use Steam to contact me. Red
  11. So today I was secured in the wild world of working. I went to my orientation which was 4 hours long and boring. I thought to myself it will be worth it when i get paid. So when the supervisor for my department started talking about schedules i was happy. I assumed i wouldn't get put to work until after this weekend. I already had my whole three day weekend out: Dungeon and Dragons session for a good amount of the day for Saturday followed up by more fan fiction writing over a period of two days. while i do all this i would save Monday for random stuff. Then a lady walked in with a stack of papers. Oh speaking of scheduling heres all of yours( i was in a group). I looked at mine and i cried in my head a little. 9AM until 5PM PST all three days. Sure im getting paid but i had my weekend all planned out. pure and simple goofing off. All part of growing up my Grandma said. i went into my room and yelled F*CK GROWING UP!
  12. Time for another one of Dusty's society threads... Ok, I was sitting in English and we are talking about a non-fiction essay. The story told about an 8 year old kid discovering the world is a dark and sinister place. I was a little bit sad about that. You know it happens. Kids 3-10 are playing games that deal with war, murder, and sex. They are watching movies that deal with serial killers, rape, and cannibalism. That basically screws the kid up. I know a lot of you will probably say, well all the kids I know watch kids television programs. I just want to make it clear I'm talking kids with ages that range from 3-10. I saw a 6 year old watching SAW. It really makes me sad that the images that will be implanted into there head are what they are going to think of the world. That 6 year old will never have imagination about gumdrops and fairy tales. No. That kid will look at the world and be scared of every one. I know of a 5 year old that watches Family Guy. I know your all thinking "So what?" I ask you this, is that really an appropriate show for a 5 year old to watch. South Park, American Dad, and King of the Hill also fall under the category. Kids that watch shows and movies like that lose their innocents. Those kids will never know of a fantasy world (that every child should have) where everyone is happy. They will only know of racism, murder, and war. I think it's sad. I actually cried in that class today, thinking about it. Yet again I was talking about kids 3-10 so don't think I'm talking about kids 10-17. What do you think about this? Do you think it's better that they lose their innocents right away, or do you think that they should find out by them selves when they're old enough to?