Apple Bloom tapped her hooves on the wooden floor of the clubhouse, and it was quiet enough she could hear the wind rustling the trees outside and every sniff of Sweetie Belle’s nose. Scootaloo wobbled as she tried to walk backwards on her hind legs and kept falling over after every two steps. Sweetie Belle just watched her.
“Ain’t there a pie eatin’ contest this week?” Apple Bloom asked.
Scootaloo landed on her back and groaned. “We tried that already.”
“Urg,” Sweetie Belle said, clutching her hooves against her stomach. “Don’t remind me. I was so sick after that.”
“Hey! How about roller derby!” Scootaloo said, lifting her head from the floor.
Apple Bloom shook her head. “Nah. We tried that too.” She stretched out her right hind leg. “Besides, my leg still hurts sometimes after that fall.”
“Maybe we could…” Sweetie Belle blushed and pressed her nose into her folded hooves. “…ask a grown-up for advice?”
Scootaloo’s eyes widened and Apple Bloom smacked her hoof on the floor as she glared at Sweetie Belle. “We ain’t that desperate!”
“Wait, girls, shut up!” Scootaloo said, rolling over and leaping up to her feet. “I’ve got it! I figured out what we’re good at!”
Pinkie’s favourite unofficial holiday was two weeks away. Every year, she would have dozens, if not hundreds of pranks ready to spring on the population of Ponyville. Each one ranging from small and simple like a joy buzzer to a hoof, to elaborate and over the top like a booby trap tied to a Rube Goldberg machine designed to throw a cream pie to the face. Out of all of the pranks she had prepared, she would have one designed to play a joke on every citizen in Ponyville with the exception of whoever had decided to collaborate with her.
This year however, nothing was planned. Nothing that Pinkie could think of felt satisfying enough to live up to the spirit of the holiday. She sat in her room in front of a blueprint. Like her mind, it was completely blank.
“What am I going to do?” she asked. “I have to do something. Anything. Come on brain, you’ve never failed me before.” Pinkie picked up a pencil. She hesitated to press it against the paper. The pencil stayed just above the paper for what felt like an eternity. Pinkie sighed and placed it down. “I guess there’s a first time for everything.” Something landed with a dull thud behind her. She turned around and found a cyan pegasus mare with a rainbow mane and tail. The mare had a wide smile on her face as she looked at Pinkie.
“Hey Pinkie,” she greeted. “Sorry I’m late, I had a bit of work to do. What do you need help with?”
“Dashie, I can’t think of anything to do,” Pinkie said. “No matter how hard I try, I can’t think of anything! Nothing comes to mind! Help me!”
Rainbow tilted her head. “What are you talking about?”
Octavia muttered that was deplorable under her breath to no-one in particular as the two mares entered their shared apartment. After all her efforts to improve Vinyl’s behavior, to see a relapse like that, in public…
“Toss that. Let’s have some music.”
Annoyed, Octavia watched Vinyl striding over to their sound system, popping in a new disc she’d never seen before, listened to the music coming on.
“So, babe. Ya like it?”
Octavia Melody most certainly did not. The horrors coming from Vinyl’s speakers were absolutely terrible. Those sounds were not music, were not listenable. She felt as if their very presence was somehow despoiling the clean, perfectly organized surroundings of their shared apartment, that if she just looked at the perfect white walls a little closer there would be some kind of filth.
She hesitated to do them the undeserved kindness of labeling them as sounds. She hadn’t even the time to change from formal dress. This torture was uncalled for.
Fluttershy wasn’t sure why she was at Sweet Apple Acres. Alone. And with nopony with her. In fact, she wasn’t really sure why she stepped out of her home today. It was a nice day to stay inside, meaning that it was raining— or it was unusually dark to be called daytime. It wasn’t really night, but it was dark enough to be night.
Maybe she wanted to see Applejack. She nodded her head and smiled unsurely. Maybe that was why. Rain or shine, Applejack tended to the trees of Sweet Apple Acres. Even if she could endure the cold, dark rain, Fluttershy was afraid she’d catch cold.
It explained the oversized cloak she draped herself in.
The gate was open, but nopony was there to greet her. Not Granny Smith, not Apple Bloom. Not even Applejack. Fluttershy shivered. Where was everypony? Now curious, she checked the fields. Maybe they were hurrying to put the last of the apples in a dry room.
Passing the barn, she stood a tall hill. She smiled— one pony was in her sight.
Red. Muscular. Wet in the dusky rain.
Two mares sat across from one another at a table made out of an overturned crate inside the barn at Sweet Apple Acres. Sunlight filtered through the slats, casting bright lines over the heaps of hay and empty barrels.
“Ya sure ‘bout this, sugarcube?” Applejack held the mug reluctantly in her hooves. She frowned deeply at its contents.
Rainbow Dash tapped her hoof impatiently. “You said it was free. Yeah, I’m sure about this. It’s cider!”
Applejack shook the mug, sloshing its contents around a bit. “It really ain’t,” she said, scowling at the mug. “More like applesauce an’ sawdust. I meant it more as a joke when I said it was free; we don’t ever sell the stuff that’s left in the bottom.”
“Are you saying I can’t have it?” Rainbow asked.
Applejack sighed and, with a moment’s hesitation, pushed the mug across to Rainbow. “If ya get sick, do it outside, okay? I don’t wanna have to clean it up.”
“Twilight, I’m scared. Help me.”
No matter how many times he said it, the library was still dark, and the world outside a bright red. With only lantern in his claws, Spike rushed through the halls. And heard the sound of claws scraping against a wooden floor grow louder.
At the end of the hallway Spike turned sharply. He found no stairs, but rather the same stretch of bookcases.
The stairs should have been there. Spike was old enough to clearly remember the layout of the library. The spines of the books quivered in the flickering light. They were old— far too old to be used as library books— but the titles of the books, embossed with a fading layer of gold leaf, could still be read.
“Growing Older— and Acting Your Age,” a cover read.
Okay, so, there’s this really cheerful pink pony, right? Right. And she’s basically the best pony in the entire world, nay, the entire multiverse, because she loves everybody and she wants to make everybody happy and yet she has hidden depths and gloriously angsty backstory, because absolutely nobody wants to grow up on a gray and lifeless rock farm.
I mean, how do you even grow rocks? What do you do with the rocks once they’re grown? There are a lot of unanswered questions here.
So anyway, there are these other ponies, who are the pink pony’s friend, and they are all secretly in love with the pink pony because, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t be in love with her? I’m just saying. Anyway, so they’re all in love with her, but none of them tell her, because they do not want to be the ones to upset the delicate and volatile dynamics of the entire friend group. The pink pony goes on sadly unaware of her five friends’ feelings, never knowing the truth, never knowing the sweet, sweet embrace of another mare.
It is tragic. Completely and utterly tragic. But isn’t love unrealized always a little tragic? Yes. Yes, I think it is.
“Sharks.” Twilight leveled an incredulous expression at Rainbow Dash.
“Yeah, sharks!” Rainbow waved her forehooves open and closed in imitation of a pair of enormous jaws.
Twilight raised an eyebrow. “But you said she was a mile in the air.”
“She was,” Rainbow said. “These were flying sharks.”
“Flying sharks,” Twilight repeated.
“I know, isn’t it awesome?” Rainbow grinned wide. “They’re just as dangerous as regular sharks, but they can fly!”
“Uh huh.” Twilight tapped her hoof on the desk.
Rainbow dug under a pile of papers. “I forget how she gets out of that one, but she does, and it’s really awesome. Where did I put it?”
The potion dripped into the little plastic cup. Three ounces of the concoction that would change his life. Thomas looked around the chamber a last time. The metal top of the table was uncomfortably cold against his naked backside, the hospital gown only covered the front.
“You can still go back, if you want,” the pure white stallion reminded him. “It is a free choice, nobody will judge you if you decide to quit, even now.”
The smile on the ponies muzzle seemed genuine to Thomas. His human assistant, however, was stealing a look at the clock, he noticed. Then a stomach rumbled. “Sorry doc Whitecoat, sorry Thomas. I missed breakfast today. I can’t wait till lunch.”
Two weeks ago Thomas would have simply ignored him or he might even have gotten a bit angry that his “conversion experience” was dimmed by this unprofessional assistant nurse. But now, with his life as a human coming to an end, he felt oddly serene. He smiled at the nurse. “I’ll try to make it quick Jules. I’ll share my first apple with you” he joked. He wiggled his toes, flexed his fingers one last time. “I still think I’m gonna miss those.”
I’ll be honest, I was never a fan of The Conversion Bureau. Too much self-indulgent wish fulfillment for my tastes. Having said that, this was an amusing little look at the transformation process. I like how they touch on things like missing fingers and how much ponies can actually do with their hooves. The deal involving the apples is also a nice touch.
“It’s three in the morning,” Twilight grumbled as she walked through the library main room. “Whoever that is, they have some nerve to disturb me at this hour.” Her magic lighted a candle and she opened the door. “Do you have any idea …” Outside stood a really wet and tired looking baby dragon. ”Spike, I was wondering when you’d come back. It’s three AM, I have just started my second pot of tea. Come in, let’s get you dry before you catch a cold. You should have been in bed hours ago.” Twilight took a step back and let the dragon walk in.
The dragon whelp suppressed a yawn as he walked in. “I know, but Rainbow Dash wanted to complete the latest chapter of her story. You know that novel she has been obsessing over for the last weeks?”
A towel floated over from the bathroom in Twilight’s magic. Spike grabbed it from the air, and started to rub his skin until he was dry again. Then he opened a closet and got a mop to clean up the small puddle he had left on the floor.
Twilight sat down at her desk and shooed away Owlowiscious before he could swipe a cube from her sugar bowl. She gave the bird a hard stare. “Oh, I know what you’re up to, mister!”
Oh, wow, that story is not going to survive Twilight Sparkle’s editorial wrath, now is it? I’m surprised that Spike is willing to spend so much time writing down Rainbow Dash’s story, let alone give her the advice he’s gleaned from spending so much time in libraries. I was amused by how Twilight seemed to finally accept that Dash’s story might be worth her time only to have it shoved in her arms moments later.
Wings, white as snow, flared widely. And ageless, domineering eyes hardened.
A sneer that burned. A glare that killed. Blue eyes that commanded obedience with thundering silence. Eyes half-curtained behind blood red bangs. Every reason she was respected—every reason she was feared—held in that gaze. And it shook two little fillies to pieces.
It wasn’t fair. She knew that. And her heart would sink with every beat, knowing it had to be done. But perhaps the worst of all; not knowing how she’d punish her beloved offspring. She glared on. Unfaltering. Unflinching. Waiting for the excuse she knew was coming.
“Mother, I… I can explain-“
“Then do so, Celestia.” She nearly winced at her own tone, the sharp echo that shook the throne room ever so lightly. “I was quite clear that you were forbidden to leave the castle.”
Hey squirt, what are you doing?
You’re kidding, right?
No. No no no no. You can’t just flop on a cloud and shut your eyes, and call it a nap. That’s not a nap. It’s an insult to the whole idea of napping!
Move over, squirt, lemme show ya.
First thing is, you gotta pick the right cloud. You got most of that right, I’ll give you that. It’s got just the right amount of fluff—not so soft that you sink through it, but not so firm that it leaves you sore when you wake up.
Problem is, it’s in the wrong spot. Look at where you’re at, Scoots. Anypony in Ponyville can find you here! And if they can find you, they can wake you up and bug you.
Yeah, I know. Till you can fly on your own, your choices are limited to the clouds that drift low enough to climb to. Hang on tight, squirt, I’m gonna move this thing.
There. Much better. You got shade, and privacy, and trees for you to climb back down.
Wait, what are you doing? Just ‘cause you found the right spot doesn’t mean you’re ready to start napping. You haven’t stretched yet.
Fluttershy smiled softly as she sipped her tea, sitting across from Princess Luna, who was also grinning happily. After a long day both in and out of her cottage, it was always nice to have a sip of tea, and having guests always made it sweeter.
“It’s so nice of you to come by, Princess,” Fluttershy chirped happily.
Nodding, Luna flashed a smile as well, dong nearly as good a job holding her teacup in her hooves. “It’s my pleasure to be here.”
The two of them looked at one another for a moment, and Fluttershy couldn’t help but think back to that Nightmare Night when they’d first met. If only she’d known how sweet the Princess was back then, perhaps they could have…
Fluttershy shook her head suddenly, trying to purge those thoughts from her mind. Fate had already conspired against a relationship between her and the Princess. Pondering it only soured her mood.
Luna raised an eyebrow, as if sensing distress in the yellow pegasus. “Is something the matter, Fluttershy?”
“N-no, not at all!” Fluttershy replied quickly, her voice carrying a higher pitch. Taking a deep breath to calm herself, she sipped the last of her tea and laid the teacup on the table. “Though, I’m rather worried about you, Princess. I heard you had a problem with an Ursa Major in Manehattan last week.”
Luna’s lips tightened, though Fluttershy could still tell the Princess was gritting her teeth by the way her jaw moved. “Naught but my… Pride is wounded, dear Fluttershy,” Luna forced out, trying to sound calmer than she was.
It was practically a guilty pleasure for him, these days. A way to unwind from the stresses of duty and diligence, to get his head screwed back on straight. Being the stallion that he was, he didn’t get chances to do things like it often, but it was a way to escape his responsibilities for a while. And now that he was married, and a co-ruler of the Crystal Empire, he had even fewer chances for it. And so, Shining Armor made a decision, and snuck out of the Crystal Palace in the middle of the night, left a pre-written note where his beloved wife would see it, and ran with all his might towards the train station. Once there, he bought a ticket for the next train to Manehatten.
Once on the train, the soft rocking of the car, and the gentle click-clack of the train as it passed over the tracks soothed Shining’s mind, and he was soon fast asleep once more. The conductor was kind enough to wake the captain of the guard when the train was due to pull into Manehatten as the sun rose over the eastern sea. Upon disembarking, Shining headed straight for the ticket office, and the list of trains leaving that day. There was one about midday, which would take him all the way over to Los Pegasus. Booking the ticket, he then wandered out into Manehatten, to find himself some breakfast, and to waste time before the next train.
Rarity often tried her best to meet deadlines. She would always set a deadline that seemed both reasonable for her and her client. Six out of ten times she would have the finished product ready long before the deadline. Three out of ten times she would barely have enough time to sew the final stitch in a dress, but would have it ready. Though rare, there would be times when she couldn’t get past the sketching stage, even if there was less than a day her client expected the dress. Unfortunately for her, she was going through one of those rare moments.
Rarity had been asked by a Manehattan boutique to design ten new dresses for the spring season. Seeing a chance to expand her business to the east side of Equestria, she happily obliged. She had completed nine of the dresses that her client had asked for three days prior her deadline. Creating the first nine was as simple as breathing. The design for the tenth eluded her though. Rarity stood in her inspiration room with three pieces of parchment floating around her. She had a fourth in front of her with a pencil weaving along it. Her mane had strands of stray hairs sticking out while her left eye twitched under her glasses.