(By: Flame Runner)
A round ball covered in small black and white hexagons whizzed through the air. Applejack jumped high into the sky and easily bounced the flying projectile off her head and back the way it had come. The ball skidded on the ground and shot into a small bounce. Rainbow Dash stood in the way of the black and white sphere and gave it a hard kick back at Applejack.
Applejack was a pony, an earth pony mare to be exact. Her coat was a brilliant orange and her blond mane and tail flowed straight and true into a pair of red barrettes. She always wore a brown cowboy hat atop her head. The orange mare gave a solid return kick to the ball and shot it to Rainbow Dash’s left.
Rainbow Dash was also a pony, a pegasus mare. She took her name from her rainbow colored hair and her incredible speed in the air. Her coat was a cyan blue and she was currently determined to get the lone soccer ball past Applejack. The cyan pegasus shot the ball far to Applejack’s right. The orange pony somehow managed to reach it in time and shot it back. It sailed past the pegasus.
“That’s three to one!” proclaimed Applejack in her southern accent.
Rainbow Dash hurriedly picked up the soccer ball and then returned to her original position.
“Yeah? Well I’m just getting warmed up. So you’d better be ready for this!” Rainbow Dash retorted.
The pegasus threw the ball high into the air and wound up for a powerful kick.
“Hello girls!” a singsong voice gave a greeting to the two mares.
Rainbow Dash turned her head toward the noise as the ball fell. Her legs kicked forward and she spun herself around to come crashing onto the ground unceremoniously.
“Ha ha ha ha!” Applejack broke into laughter.
“Rarity you made me miss my kick!” complained Rainbow Dash as she picked herself up.
Rarity was also a mare, but she was a unicorn. Rarity’s coat was a brilliant and well groomed white color while her purple hair spiraled down in elegant curls. She spoke with a well cultured voice and had an eye for detail.
“I’m terribly sorry,” responded Rarity, “it’s just that I received three tickets to the Horseshoe Art Exhibit and I was hoping that you two might come with me?”
Rainbow Dash and Applejack looked at each other with expressions of shock and slight discomfort.
“Um…excuse me? An ART exhibit?” questioned Rainbow Dash.
“Yes that’s right,” Rarity responded. “The exhibit is tomorrow and…well…I know you both don’t normally go to high class events like this but I thought that adding a bit of culture might be enjoyable. You don’t have to come if you don’t want to.”
Rainbow Dash and Applejack looked back at each other’s faces. Applejack motioned with her head away from Rarity.
“Mind if’n we talk this over sugarcube?” Applejack asked Rarity.
“Not at all!” came the courteous reply.
Rainbow Dash and Applejack moved a good distance away from the white unicorn and began to talk in hushed whispers.
“An art exhibit? Is she for real?” asked Rainbow Dash incredulously.
“Now looky here RD, I may not know much, but what I do know is that those there tickets aren’t ‘xactly easy to get. Offerin’ them to us is mighty generous,” stated Applejack.
The cyan pegasus looked away and into the sky for but a moment. She soon turned her head back toward the orange mare.
“Yeah…but we’re talking about art. Can you think of anything more boring?”
“RD, she’s tryin’ to do somethin’ nice for us. I think we should go. Besides I got nothin’ better planned. Who knows? We might even enjoy it,” commented Applejack.
“Hmm…” Rainbow Dash raised a hoof up to her chin in thought. “Ok. She wants to ‘culture’ us in high society, right?”
“Yes?” replied Applejack.
“Alright then, what do think about this?”
The rainbow maned mare leaned in closer to Applejack and whispered in the orange one’s ear.
“Yeah, ok. I can go fer that,” said Applejack with a curt nod of her head.
The two mares casually sauntered back to Rarity. The white pony had been patiently waiting for an answer.
“We accept,” declared Applejack.
Rarity’s face lit up like a Christmas tree.
“With one condition,” finished Rainbow Dash as she raised up a hoof.
The unicorn’s face changed to show an expression of questioning. Rainbow Dash continued.
“You are taking us to this exhibit to culture us in high society. So, the day after this art show, we’re going to culture you in sports. We’ll go with you if you agree to play on our team in a little three-on-three soccer match. Sound fair?”
Now it was Rarity’s turn to be uncertain. She closed her eyes and bowed her head for a few moments. Soon, she looked back into the eyes of her friends with a big smile etched into her lovely face.
“I accept,” she stated. “Now here are your tickets. Don’t lose them and I’ll meet you at my Boutique at ten o’clock sharp tomorrow morning. Ta ta!”
Rarity waved a good-bye to her friends and then strode off. Applejack and Rainbow Dash each now held a small silver tinged ticket with green, frilly trim on it. The tickets read, “Horseshoe Art Exhibit” in the same fancy green as the trim.
Rainbow Dash was the first to look up after observing the ticket. The soccer ball lay at her hooves.
“So, ready to get schooled?” she joked at Applejack.
The orange pony met the pegasus’ gaze coolly.
“In your dreams!” she replied with a small chuckle.
Within moments, the black and white ball was busy once again sailing through the skies on that sunny afternoon.
Morning sunlight poured over a cyan pegasus. The pegasus lay snoozing in her comfy cloud bed. She swatted a lazy hoof at the annoying sunlight.
“Go away,” she mumbled and then rolled over.
But the light would not go away. It persisted only to pester the pegasus and raise her from sleep. Slowly a tired eye cracked open. The bright rays of the sun flooded through the opening in Rainbow Dash’s defenses. The mare grumbled and quickly blinked her eyes shut once again.
“Ugh…I am definitely not a morning pony,” she grumbled to herself.
The mare once again rolled herself around in her plush bed. She attempted to open her sleepy eyes. This time she had remarkably more success. After only a few quick blinks, her eyes had adjusted to the blinding rays of sunshine. She managed to crawl out of bed and let off a massive yawn.
“What time is it?” she pondered.
A quick turn of her head revealed a small clock.
“9:50? That’s too early.” She sighed. “Oh well, guess since I’m up I should- Rarity!”
Rainbow Dash’s eyes snapped wide open as she realized what time it was. She zipped over to a mirror and found that she had a serious case of bed head. A quick match of comb vs. hair soon solved the issue, but left Dash with only seven minutes left to make it to the Carousel Boutique.
“Ok…think Dash. Fancy event. What do I need for a fancy event?” she thought aloud. “Uh…nice clothes! Need some nice clothes. What do I have?”
She zoomed over to her wardrobe. Not much to be seen in the way of fancy clothing, plenty of sweat bands and other work-out clothes though. There were, however, two dresses crumpled somewhere in the back. Both were elegant and suited the rainbow mare to a tea. They had been made by Rarity for two special occasions. One dress had been for the famed Grand Galloping Gala and the other for the wedding of the century. She snatched out the dress she had worn at the wedding. It had been fashioned in such a way as to be more aerodynamic than the Gala dress. She pressed her hooves over it to hopefully smooth out some of the wrinkles. It was easy enough to get back into, but every second counted.
“9:59. Plenty of time,” Rainbow sighed with relief. “Anything else I need?” she glanced around her room. “Nope, I’m good.”
With a quick flap of her strong wings, Rainbow Dash flew into the sky like a bolt of lightning. She took off for the Carousel Boutique. Suddenly she burst back into her room.
“Can’t forget the ticket!” she cried.
A brief search found a somewhat ruffled, but still elegant, ticket on the floor. She snatched it up and then took off once more. The clock read 10:00.
“It’s 10:01,” stated Rarity as she looked out the front door of her dress shop, the Carousel Boutique. “Where is Rainbow Dash?”
“Don’t sweat it. She’ll be here any second now,” replied Applejack from behind.
The down to earth orange mare had also put on her custom made wedding dress for the occasion. But still her cowboy hat sat atop her brow, nigh inseparable from her head. Rarity had on a simple, yet lovely silver gown. Adorning her head was a large sun bonnet which matched and added flare to the simplicity of the dress.
A blast of rainbow burst into view and whizzed past Rarity. The white mare was spun around in a dizzying circle as Rainbow Dash slowed to a halt inside the Carousel Boutique.
“You’re late,” stated Applejack with a small grin.
Rarity stopped spinning and wobbled around until she found some solid object to cling to.
“I…well…uh…” fumbled Rainbow Dash. “Well it’s…it’s reasonable to be fashionably late, right?”
Whether her brain was muddled from spinning or not, Rarity smiled broadly and then proclaimed, “Why it certainly is! We haven’t even visited the exhibit yet and you’ve learned something about high society! This is going to be a very good day.”
Applejack and Rainbow Dash just looked at each other and began to chuckle softly.
“And this here is Ponycaso’s famed Marenica!” explained Rarity excitedly.
After a long train ride, the three mares had found themselves at the Horseshoe Art Exhibit a few hours later in the bustling city of Canterlot. The exhibit itself was a special outdoor event. Many posh ponies were strolling around the various works. The art was separated in various categories. Some were organized by style. Sculptures, paintings, sketches, woodcarvings, glass works, and many other unique and fabulous works of art were to be seen all around. Some very special sections were separated by artist name alone. Among them were the many works of Ponycaso where the three found themselves currently.
“That just looks like a bunch of random doodles,” commented Rainbow Dash.
The pegasus was squinting and twisting her head sideways to get a better view of the picture.
“Random doodles?!” shriek Rarity. “Why Marenica screams of troubles and hardship even as ponies hold on to hope despite it all.”
Applejack was also leaning her head back and forth. She had a hoof under her chin and gave the piece a thorough look-over.
“I think I see a face in there…somewhere,” said Applejack.
The orange pony waved her hoof above the picture, semi-pointing toward a section of the artwork. Rarity stood with mouth agape at her two friends. Slowly, Rarity spoke up.
“Uh…maybe this was the wrong section to start in. Perhaps we could try the works of Faust de Lauren?”
Rainbow Dash shrugged and Applejack stood still looking intently at Marenica, mumbling something to herself.
“Well come on then,” prompted Rarity as she led the way off to the next section.
The three came up to the works of Faust de Lauren. The first thing they found was a beautiful drawing of a mare in mid trot. She seemed to be almost skipping along a path happily as a tiny bluebird flew overhead in the background.
“Her style is Realism?” asked Applejack.
“Oh! Oh! I think I get this one!” Rainbow Dash stated happily. “It’s a pony that’s happy to come home. Right?”
A fancy mare, but not Rarity, interrupted the pegasus from her happiness. She was dressed in a feathery purple dress and wore no hat, but had a small rose in her hair. Her mane was yellow and her coat was a light blue. She clucked her tongue and then spoke up.
“Why the works of Faust de Lauren are not so simple! They speak into the very soul of a pony and dare to ask the questions that none other asks!”
The threesome looked over at the new arrival.
“You know, I’m pretty sure that this is picture of a happy pony skipping home,” retorted Rainbow Dash.
“Hmph. It is so much more than what you simply see,” replied the high class mare.
“Have we met?” Rarity asked.
“I do not believe so,” said the mare. “I am Powderpuff, curator of the Faust de Lauren exhibit here.”
“Y-You’re Powerpuff?” exclaimed Rarity happily. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I am Rarity and these are my friends, Rainbow Dash and Applejack.”
Powderpuff bowed her head slightly toward each pony.
“I take it you are not art enthusiasts?” asked the curator.
“No mam,” opened Applejack. “This is kind of my and RD’s first time here.”
“And you?” Powderpuff asked Rarity.
“Oh, I’ve been a few times. It is always a wonder and a pleasure to view such masterpieces in person.”
Powderpuff’s face lit up with a small, but knowing smile.
“Then perhaps you know that this is the first time that Faust de Lauren’s works have been in the Horseshoe Art Exhibit?” asked the curator.
Rarity nodded a polite “yes”.
“Then maybe you and your friends might like a tour?” questioned Powderpuff.
“Oh would we ever!” squealed Rarity with delight.
“Come along then, I have plenty to show you,” replied the mare with dignity.
Powderpuff turned from the grounp and began to walk away. Rarity followed after her unquestioningly. Applejack and Rainbow Dash looked at each other with vacant expressions, something they’d been doing a lot these past few hours. Dash shrugged and the two followed after their friend. The tour led them through all of Faust de Lauren’s works. They learned many interesting facts and tidbits behind each and every one of the magnificent pieces on display. Rainbow Dash found her personal favorite piece to be that of a pony, strangely akin to Pinkie Pie, with a crazed expression on her face and threatening to jump straight out of the canvas. The pegasus couldn’t stop laughing for the rest of the tour. But the tour did eventually come to a close and the three mares needed to say goodbye to Powderpuff and the Horseshoe Art Exhibit and head home late that evening.
“Goodbye Powderpuff!” called Rarity with emotion as the group left the Art Exhibit. “Thank you for the wonderful tour!”
“Come back again next year!” replied Powderpuff with an elegant voice.
The trio soon boarded a late night train headed back to Ponyville. Rarity, Applejack, and Rainbow Dash each made themselves comfortable in the train cabins before conversation started up.
“So…what did you girls think?” pried Rarity.
“It reminded me of my time in Manehatten,” stated Applejack. “It’s nice to remember the past sometimes.”
“Meh,” Dash said next.
The pegasus then rolled over and closed her eyes.
“Meh?! What do you mean ‘Meh’?!” Rarity queried.
Rainbow Dash turned back around and opened her eyes. She looked at Rarity and then broke into laughter.
“You should see the look on your face!” the pegasus gasped out between fits of laughter. “Oh, oh, that’s too good.”
“Does this mean that you liked it?” Rarity asked with hope.
Rainbow Dash calmed down before responding.
“Ok, tell you what. It was better than I was expecting. That one picture. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. That is comedy in its purest form.”
“I think you’re more tired than I realized RD. You and art never get along,” responded Applejack in shock.
“Hey, I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite thing in all Equestria to have done, but I think I’m glad to have done it. I wouldn’t go just to see art all the time, but maybe next year I’ll join you again if you want,” Rainbow Dash offered. “Now, I suggest that we all get some shuteye. Especially you Rarity, we’ve got a game tomorrow and I expect to see you at seven…PM. But we’ll give you a few extra minutes. After all, it’s only reasonable to be fashionably late.”
The three chuckled for a few moments but sleep soon embraced the weary mares as they rode back to Ponyville.
“Sweetie Belle!” called Rarity with urgency from her design room. “Sweetie Belle I need you!”
Sweetie Belle, Rarity’s younger sister, was a white filly unicorn. She had short curly hair and the biggest, cutest eyes around. She had no cutie mark to adorn her flank which meant that she had yet to discover her unique talent. That, of course, did not stop her from trying everything, which included trying to impress, have fun with, and help her older sister.
“Here I am Rarity!” she announced as she entered the messy room.
Parts of snipped cloth lay scattered on the floor and ribbons were strewn every which way. A few dresses were semi-assembled on manikins, but had yet to see completion. Rarity herself had her head half buried under a pile of clothes which had been spilt upon the ground. The older unicorn popped out of the pile with a fancy sweater clinging desperately to her left ear and an apron flapped over her right eye. She managed to shake the apron off, but the sweater wouldn’t release its hold.
“There you are Sweetie Belle!” exclaimed the white mare with relief. “I have a very important soccer match today and…I don’t know what I’m supposed to bring! I haven’t played soccer since I was…I don’t know if I’ve ever played soccer! Please, I know that you and your friends do, well…whatever it is that you do. Please help me!”
Sweetie Belle giggled at Rarity’s uppity antics and strode over to her sister with a small bounce to her step.
“Well first, big sis, let’s get this thing off your ear.”
Sweetie brought up a hoof and gently pulled the sweater off her sister.
“There, much better! Now, you’ll need some exercise shorts and a casual short sleeve shirt. If you really want, you can wear a headband. Oh, and make sure to bring plenty of water.”
“Headband? Am I going to get all…sweaty?” bemoaned Rarity.
Sweetie Belle was rummaging through the massive pile of clothes and listening to her big sister at the same time.
“Don’t get all uppity about it. Soccer is a lot of fun. Now, here, I’ve found a pair of shorts in this pile. You just need a nice shirt.”
Sweetie handed Rarity a pair of new, blue exercise shorts before jumping back into the pile and disappearing from view. Rarity threw the shorts off to the side and then resumed her own search. Soon Rarity came out with a sparkly, neon green short sleeved shirt.
“Perfect!” cooed Rarity.
Sweetie Belle popped her head from her swim amidst the clothes.
“Um…I’m not sure if-”
“Thank you Sweetie Belle! I’ll be back after the game!” Rarity called as she rushed out the door with her mishmash of clothes in her hooves.
Sweetie Belle shrugged and then dove back into the pile.
“I’m here!” called Rarity as she stepped onto Sweet Apple Acres, Applejack’s home and an apple orchard.
Applejack came over to greet her friend.
“Well howdy! And it looks like you’re fashionably early. We’re goin’ to the empty fields for our game. Rainbow Dash has been practicin’ somethin’ fierce this mornin’.”
The mares walked over to an open field on the farmland. Sure enough, Rainbow Dash was busy kicking the ball off her hooves a few times before launching it sky high only to take to the air herself and then bomb the ball into a goal at the other end of the field.
“Yeah! Yeah! Rainbow Dash! Rainbow Dash!” the pegasus cheered for herself while spinning around in a make believe victory dance.
“RD! Rarity’s here!” called Applejack.
The pegaus turned herself to face her friends. She chuckled nervously and threw one hoof behind her head while the other waved a greeting.
“Oh, uh, hey Rarity.”
“So what are we doing exactly?” asked Rarity as Rainbow Dash came back to earth.
Applejack was the one to respond.
“We’re playin’ first team to five wins. RD and I are on the offensive in this little soccer match. You’ll be the goalie Rarity. It’s real easy to do. Jus’ use your magic whenever the ball gets too close to the goal and throw it back out or ya’ could jus’ jump at it and block it with your hooves.”
“I’ll go for the magic, thank you,” replied Rarity.
“You sure?” asked Dash. “I’ve heard plenty of unicorns tell me that when the ball gets to zipping around at those speeds it can be tough to stop with magic.”
“I’ll still stick with magic.”
“Alright, suit yourself.” Rainbow Dash shrugged.
“So, it’s a three-on-three match. We make three. Who else are we up against?” questioned Rarity.
“We’re playing against Lyra, Bon Bon, and Incidentalpegasus,” answered Applejack.
“You remember Incidentalpegasus right?” queried Rainbow Dash.
“From that one incident?” Rarity responded with a question of her own.
Rainbow Dash nodded.
“Of course!” stated Rarity.
“Good, ‘cause here they come.” Applejack pointed a hoof over at the opposing team as they bounded over a distant hill.
“Alright! Let’s get this thing started!” Dash shouted energetically.
The teams each took their sides. Both teams had one pegasus, one earth pony, and one unicorn. Both unicorns were set as goalies while the remaining contestants were on the offensive. The match started as the ball went flying across the field with powerful kicks and unrivaled speed. Both teams had their ups and downs. Goals were scored on each side and wonderful blocks were made by each goalie. It happened to come down to one final point for either team. Four to four, next goal would claim the victory.
Rarity’s horn ignited and captured the soccer ball mid air just before it could cross over the goal line. She tossed the ball out to her team. Applejack now held the black and white sphere in her possession, but Bon Bon was coming up fast. Applejack dribbled the ball between her four hooves which made Bon Bon miss the steal. The cowgirl pony passed the ball in a high arc over Bon Bon’s head. Rainbow Dash hopped lightly into the air and caught the ball on her side. It bounced off and landed at the pegasus’ feet. Dash wore a winning smile and a fire of pure determination blazed in her eyes. Incidentalpegasus came whizzing up to Rainbow Dash desiring to take the ball for his own team, but Dash wouldn’t lose so easily, not today. She deftly avoided the steal and wound up her legs for a powerful finisher. The ball blazed forth, toward the goal. Lyra jumped toward the ball with hooves outstretched and horn ablaze. But the ball was simply too fast. A satisfying swish signaled the end of the game and victory for Applejack, Rarity, and Rainbow Dash. The three victorious mares rushed toward each other and met with a satisfying hug in the middle of the field.
“We won! We won!” Rarity squealed. “And now we’re all covered in sweat…” she realized.
Applejack laughed and jumped up and down.
“So, what did you think?” asked Rainbow Dash between huffs of oxygen.
“Although it wasn’t my favorite thing ever, I had fun. I might play another round with you girls another one of these days,” replied Rarity.
The three stood and breathed in deeply for a few moments, enjoying the simplicity of simply breathing.
“Ya’ know,” began Applejack eventually, “it’s kinda strange. RD said the same thin’ about art. Granny Smith always said, ‘If somethin’ gets repeated it’s probably important’. Well that and, ‘Don’t ferget to make yer teeth and brush yer bead’.”
Rainbow Dash and Rarity finally got their chance to look at each other strangely, yet still knowingly.
“Friendship lesson?” asked Dash.
“Friendship lesson,” agreed Rarity.
A letter was slid under the door to Ponyville’s library. A small dragon picked it up.
“Twilight! We’ve got mail,” called the purple dragon.
“What does it say?” asked the purple unicorn known as Twilight Sparkle.
The dragon, Spike by name, cleared his throat and began to read.
“Dear Princess Celestia, Recently we’ve learned even more about friendship. Sometimes you do things with your friends that you’re not sure you’ll enjoy, still you do it anyway because they’re you’re friend. In the end you might find that you had a great time or maybe you discover it’s not for you. Either way, it’s fun to hang out with friends and do the things that they enjoy. After all, friendship is a give and take. Signed, Rainbow Dash and Rarity.”
“What a great lesson!” replied Twilight. “Go ahead and send it off Spike.”
The young dragon helper puffed out a small green flame which burnt the paper to ash, but the ash floated away to Princess Celestia where it would magically reassemble itself.
“You know, I’ve been doing a lot of research lately and you’ve been a great help even though it’s not exactly your thing. So, is there anything you want to do today?” Twilight asked her faithful assistant.
“Yes Twilight, I know exactly what I want to do today. Can I get a number 25?”
The librarian laughed and her horn lit up with lavender magic. A thick moustache sprouted upon the little dragon’s upper lip.
“Yes! Now all I need is a fancy suit!”
The dragon zipped out the door and headed into town. Twilight giggled quietly to herself before exiting the library and following after her young assistant.