"Hello little guys. Would you like a treat?" Fluttershy smiled sweetly at her little night squirrel friends. Night squirrels are a very rare breed of squirrels, which only exist in the Everfree Forest, and only come out late at night, hence the name.
The nearest squirrel to her took the bit of nut from her mouth and scampered back up the tree with it.
Fluttershy smiled and held another bit out, nudging it with her nose. "See girls? This is how you talk to night squirrels. They're very shy," she said to the amazed Cutie Mark Crusaders behind her.
"Wow." Applebloom breathed. "They're so cute, Fluttershy. Can ah hold one?"
Fluttershy smiled. "I don't know. Hold your hoof out.
The small earth pony obeyed.
"OK little friends, this is Applebloom. She wants to be your friend too. Can she?" Fluttershy whispered to the squirrels.
The one which had taken a bit of food from her timidly hopped forwards and sniffed the outstretched hoof, it's tiny nose twitching madly.
"Girls look!" Applebloom whispered to her friends as the squirrel placed it's paws on her hoof and sniffed again. "It likes me!"
"I want one!" Sweetie Belle whispered and squeed joyfully.
Scootaloo gagged. "They're too cutesy wutesy for me. Totally uncool. I want a turtle like Rainbow Dash has. Tank is awesome."
Fluttershy giggled. "Tank's not a turtle, he's a tortoise. And are you sure you don't want one of these cute little guys? Or at least hold one?"
Scootaloo looked at her friends, each nuzzling a small furry, black squirrel. "Ugh. Fine then," she said, feigning interest. The truth is, she was secretly dying to hold one.
The pegasus held her orange hoof out and let a small squirrel hop on and scamper up her leg and up to her neck. "Tee hee, that tickles," she giggled as it's little paws tickled her coat and nestled against her purple mane.
"Awwww, Scoots has got a pal," Sweetie teased as she nestled her own squirrel in her own, poofy mane.
"Shut up," Scootaloo whispered. "She's adorable. It is a she right?" she asked Fluttershy, who wasn't there anymore. "Fluttershy?" she asked again, slightly louder this time.
Alone and by the edge of the Everfree, the girls began to feel panic spread over them. They all breathed sighs of relief as the shy pegasus came back into view.
"Oh sorry girls, I was helping a small fox kit over there. I didn't scare you did I? Oh I'm sorry..." Fluttershy hung her head and pawed at the ground nervously.
"It's alright, 'Shy. We just didn't know where y'all was, that's all." Applebloom smiled up at her as the Squirrel nibbled on her bow. "Hey! You can't eat that!" she cried and flicked the nibbling invader off, watching sadly as it scampered back up the tree and into the darkness.
"OK that's enough, friends. We had better get going now, it's late," Fluttershy cooed and extended a wing for the other two squirrels, giggling as they danced along her wings and back then hopped onto the tree.
"Awwww," the girls murmured.
"Don't worry, you'll see them again soon. They like you, so they'll come back." Fluttershy smiled at them. "Would you girls like some cocoa before bedtime?"
They nodded earnestly. "Yeah Flutters, your hot cocoa is the bestest thing ever! Besides Rainbow Dash of course." Scootaloo cried and buzzed her wings.
Fluttershy blushed. "Oh really now."
Applebloom nodded. "It's true, it's the best cocoa ah've ever drinked."
"Drank," Sweetie corrected her.
"What are you a dictionary or somethin'?" Bloom replied and laughed.
Sweetie turned red and followed her friends to Fluttershy's small cottage.
"Thanks again fer lookin' after us, 'Shy, with Applejack and Rarity away on some 'business' together," Applebloom said as she sipped her hot chocolate, and grinned knowingly.
"Oh it's no trouble at all, dears," Fluttershy smiled and bustled about, feeding the nocturnal animals in her house and filling up any empty bowls for their suppers.
"How often do night squirrels come out, Fluttershy?" Sweetie asked politely.
"Oh not very often." the pegasus replied as she joined them on the sofa, sipping her own cup of hot cocoa. "But they've recently been showing up lately. I wonder wh-"
She was interrupted by a loud booming noise coming from outside.
"What's that?" Scootaloo asked as they peered out the window.
"I don't know." Fluttershy whispered. "Girls. Stay here. I'll go have a look outside."
The three fillies nodded and gazed out the window at a white light falling from the sky.
Fluttershy took a deep breath and opened her door. "Oh my..." she said as the white thing fell closer, and closer. "Don't lose your nerve now, Fluttershy. Be assertive. protect the girls," she thought furiously to herself.
She took a few steps forward and craned her neck to see what it was.
"A meteorite of some sort or something. I bet Twilight would know." "Oh! Twilight!" she gasped and rushed back inside. "Girls? Gir- oh there you are. Listen, you three stay here while I go see if Twilight knows anything about what's happening. OK?"
"Yes Fluttershy," the trio replied and waved her goodbye as she darted back outside.
"So what do you think it is?" Sweetie asked as they watched the white object fall.
"I bet it's a dragon, come to attack Ponyville. We'll have to stop it!" Scootaloo said and jumped up on a chair. "That'll be our cutie marks! Dragon slayers!"
"But what about Spike? Won't he be offended that we slay dragons for the rest of our lives?" Sweetie countered.
The pegasus grunted and hopped down from the chair. "I suppose. Maybe not a dragon then. What else?"
"How about... an alien!" Sweetie cried. "A new form of life! Maybe that'll be our cutie marks: speaking to alien life forms. That would be cool. Right?"
"Ah don't think you can have a cutie mark in alien-ry stuff." Applebloom murmured.
The unicorn's face fell. "So what's your idea then?" she grumbled.
Applebloom rubbed her chin. "I reckon it's a new type of alicorn! Like the princesses. Ah bet it'll come to give us our cutie marks."
Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo looked at each other, then back to Applebloom. "Nah," they said in unison, giggling and turning their yellow friend as red as her brother.
Applebloom's bow drooped. "Why not?"
"'Cause that's just silly, you silly filly," Scootaloo laughed and playfully punched her friend's shoulder.
"Ow. It's not silly!" Applebloom retorted and rubbed her shoulder.
They started bickering, as they usually do when discussing ideas for their cutie marks.
They never noticed the thing get closer...
*Knock knock knock*
"Twilight! Twilight!" Fluttershy cried as she banged on the door to the library and her friend's house.
"One second!" came a grumpy and tired voice. Fluttershy pressed an ear against the door and heard the locks being unlocked. The door swung open, revealed a bleary eyed Twilight Sparkle. "Oh hello Fluttershy. What's up?" she asked and rubbed her eyes. Do you know what time it is?" she said, a bit too grumpily for Fluttershy.
"Oh... sorry for waking you Twilight... I can come back tomorrow if you want..." Fluttershy murmured and backed away shyly.
Twilight rolled her eyes. "No, no. I'm awake... *yawn* honest. What's wrong? You look like you've seen a ghost. Are the Cutie Mark Crusaders giving you too much trouble? Have they gotten lost in the Everfree again?"
Fluttershy shook her head and pointed to the Everfree. At the large, white thing still falling, very close now.
Twilight bolted outside and stared at the thing with an open jaw. "Oh my gosh. What is it?" she asked without turning around.
"I don't know. I was hoping we could look through your telescope at it." Fluttershy said as Twilight spun around.
"Of course! Come on. Hurry!" she urged.
Fluttershy looked back at the falling object nervously and glided inside, closing the door gently behind her as she entered.
"Spike! Wake up! Where's my telescope?" Twilight shouted as she, ''blinked'' as Fluttershy called it, all over the room. "Spike!" she barked.
"Ugh. What's up Twi? Oh, hey Fluttershy. What's goin' on?" the baby dragon murmured and rubbed his head with a claw.
"No time to explain, well actually there's plenty of time, but I need my telescope now," Twilight said, getting frustrated. "Where is it?"
"Um... Twi? Is this it?" Fluttershy asked and tapped a large, cylindrical object mounted to a tripod.
Twilight nodded and rushed over to it, swinging it around to get a look at the object. "Just need to adjust the focus... here we go," she murmured and gazed out at the thing. "Take a look."
Fluttershy brushed her mane away and peeked through the scope. "What is it?" she whispered as she brought her head away from the device.
Twilight shook her head, "I don't know. But it looks like it's going to hit the Everfree. Look!" she gasped. "Bits of it are dropping off!"
Indeed there were bits falling off it. Long, gangly bits. Impossibly long bits. Giant bits.
Fluttershy squinted as she tried to make out what they were through the telescope.
Twilight yawned again. "We'd best go check it out in the morning, the residual debris from space will probably burn until then. You're welcome to stay here for the night, if you want, Fluttershy." She smiled at the pegasus.
Fluttershy smiled back. "I'd love to, but the girls are waiting for me. It's way past their bedtime, and I was showing them the night squirrels, but um... I should get back now. Thanks Twilight."
Twilight nodded. "I'll stop by in the morning and we'll go check on what it was."
"OK." Fluttershy gave her friend a friendly hug, and cantered off to her own house, worrying about whatever this thing was.
And if it was dangerous.