Twilight Sparkle hummed softly to herself as she trotted along the dirt path through the meadows on the outskirts of Ponyville. Celestia's sun shone down on her and a chorus of birds accompanied the clip clop of her hooves. She smiled and glanced up as a flock of sparrows dipped low over her head and then sped off towards the Whitetail woods. Following them with her eyes, the purple unicorn paused as she caught a glimpse of a familiar pink and yellow shape.
Curiosity taking over, Twilight walked to the top of a small grass-covered hill, which was currently playing host to a couple of rabbits and one pegasus pony. The pony was standing stock still, wings pulled tight against her sides, facing the forests beyond the meadowlands. Even as Twilight approached, the pony remained entirely still and quiet, only her mane and tail waving gently in the breeze.
"Hi Fluttershy! What's up in this-"
Twilight fell on her rump, gasping for breath as her heart thundered in her chest. A slowly descending cloud of dust and flower petals was all that remained of Fluttershy until a few moments later when the timid pegasus peeked back up over the crest of the hill, blue eyes wide as saucers.
"...Twilight? Is that you?"
"Yes it's me," said Twilight, trying and failing to keep the annoyance out of her tone, "and you scared the manure out of me! What the hay Fluttershy?"
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you, but you scared me, and I was so scared I guess it scared you too. Oh dear."
Twilight rolled her eyes as she pulled herself back up onto her hooves. Fluttershy crept back to the top of the hill, looking fearfully about as if expecting additional unicorns to appear out of nowhere. Twilight tilted her head to one side.
"Uh... you're acting even more nervous than usual. Is something wrong?"
Fluttershy nodded frantically.
"Ooohhh yes Twilight, something is wrong. Something is very very wrong!"
They stared at each other for nearly a full minute before Twilight's ears laid back in irritation.
"You want to tell me what it is?"
"Oh! Oh my, yes. Well, you see, I'm being chased by a monster."
The unicorn's eyes widened and she quickly turned around, scanning the surrounding environs for any unsavory-looking creatures. When she'd completed her search and found nothing any more intimidating than a rabbit, she turned back to Fluttershy with a small frown.
"Oh yes!" Fluttershy nodded vigorously, "I saw it just this morning, over by the forest! Oh it was just horrible Twilight, a great tall thin monster, like a tree! Its coat was all mismatched colors and it walked on two legs-" she got up on her own hind hooves and took a few wobbly steps to demonstrate "-and its forelegs ended in these terrible fleshy claws! Oh, and its face, Twilight, it was all punched in and mean looking, and covered in bushy hair, and it was wearing glasses!"
She paused as she noticed the unicorn's expression, which consisted of a raised eyebrow and an open-mouthed grimace. Fluttershy lowered her own head until her mane fell forward and partially hid her face from view.
"I... I have never heard of... anything... like that," said Twilight at last. "Glasses you say?"
"... are you sure that was a monster, Fluttershy? Is it possible that it was... I don't know... anything else?"
"Pinkie Pie said it was a space pony," the butter colored pegasus supplied.
"Pinkie said... why does that not surprise me," groaned Twilight, wiping a hoof down the front of her face. "Did Pinkie Pie have anything else to say on this subject?"
Fluttershy nodded. "Yes, she said I had to be very careful that the space pony didn't see me, because if it did then it would probably want to touch my butt."
Twilight gaped. Fluttershy pawed the ground in front of herself nervously.
"So, so I've been standing up on top of this hill, so I can see everywhere around me and so, so if the space pony shows up again, I'll see it coming and I can run away."
"...but... Fluttershy, I snuck up on you without even trying."
"...I'm not very good at it."
Twilight sighed and took a few steps forward, putting a foreleg around Fluttershy's withers.
"Okay, listen to me. There is no such thing as space ponies."
"But, but Pinkie said..."
"Yes, I know Pinkie said. But Fluttershy, please tell me that you know that there are instances, and many of them, where Pinkie Pie is not an entirely reliable source of information."
Fluttershy averted her gaze and nodded.
"Well, I would submit that this is one such instance. I don't know what it is that you saw, but I very much doubt that it came from space, and I really don't think it wants to do anything to your butt. So why don't you just go home to be with your animals, okay?"
"I... I think I'd like that... I was starting to get kind of hungry."
"Well there you go! Go home, have a nice lunch, and forget all about it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go have a long and serious talk with Pinkie Pie about when it is and is not appropriate to make very bad jokes."
* * *
Fluttershy sighed with relief as she walked into her cottage, nudging the door shut behind her. She felt very silly, now. Twilight was right, she did know better than to take Pinkie Pie at her word, especially when bizarre tales about extra Equestrian life forms was involved. She'd just seemed so convincing...
"You silly filly," she admonished herself as she walked across the living room and towards her kitchen, "you're going to give yourself a heart attack one of these days. Now get some lunch and stop worrying about the strange creature that's sitting on the couch."
She stopped mid-stride, eyes practically bugging out of her skull. Fluttershy slowly turned her head just enough to look behind herself out of the corner of one eye.
The space pony smiled.
Fluttershy let out a shriek that could have shattered glassware and fled as fast as her hooves could carry her. She managed a very impressive turn of speed for all of two seconds before she discovered that fleeing when your eyes are tightly closed in fear is not the wisest of decisions and plowed directly into the wall. Knocked silly by the impact, she wasted precious moments scrabbling bock onto her hooves and getting her bearings. By the time she knew what was going on again the space pony had already risen to its feet and was moving towards her with long, loping strides of those terrible legs.
Fluttershy's fight or flight instincts had kicked in long ago, and as per usual her first option was flight. But as the space pony approached her she quickly realized that retreat was no longer an option. With no other choices left, she went all out with the rarely used "fight" setting.
"Go away!" she wailed, flailing with her front hooves while she closed her eyes tightly and turned away so she didn't have to look, "Please, just go away! If you come any nearer I'll... I'll... I'll do something!"
The space pony took each of her hooves in one of its claws, easily stopping their frantic movement. Fluttershy took in a breath and prepared to scream again.
She paused when she felt herself pulled against another body, arms wrapping around her. Cringing, Fluttershy slowly opened one eye.
The space pony had knelt down beside Fluttershy and was holding her firmly against itself, face buried in her mane. Fluttershy whimpered, tensed and ready for whatever was going to happen next. The space pony's grip tightened ever so slightly for a moment, and then it let out a long, shuddering sigh.
"... um... excuse me... Mister Space Pony? Um, are you... are you hugging me?"
The space pony said "Mph."
Glancing around, Fluttershy slowly extricated one of her arms from the embrace and gently patted the space pony's shoulder.
"Uhm... there there?"
The space pony let out another sigh, its grip loosening just slightly. Fluttershy nickered softly and put her arms around the space pony, hugging it as firmly as she dared. She could feel its glasses poking her as it pressed its face against the warm fur of her shoulder.
Then, just as suddenly as it had started, the space pony released her. Fluttershy sat down on her rump, staring up at the strange creature with wide eyes as it rose back to a standing position. The space pony smiled at her again, then reached down and patted her gently on the head. That done, it turned and walked over to the door, manipulating the knob with its bizarre appendage before going outside, closing the door behind it.
Fluttershy watched it go in stunned silence, and continued to stare at the door for several long moments after it had left.
"... what the buck was that!?"