"Mares and gentlecolts, put your hooves together for the hellion of the half-pipe, the most furious thing on four wheels, the purple maned maverick, the mare that knows no fear. Let's give a warm Manehattin welcome for Equestria's number one daredevil, Scootaloo!"
Scootaloo emerged from the backstage corridor to the top of a giant half pipe and looked down at the crowd of fans cheering and stomping their hooves below. It was the biggest extreme sport event in Equestria, and she was the main event. The fully grown mare struck a few poses for the cameras, zipped up her purple body suit and got on her scooter in preparation for her stunt routine. Unable to contain their excitement, the audience began chanting her name.
"Scootaloo! Scootaloo! Scootaloo! Scootaloo!"
"Scootaloo... Scootaloo... Scootaloo..."
"Pssst! Scootaloo!" Apple Bloom whispered while leaning over to the sleeping orange pegasus trying to get her attention. Scootaloo wiped the drool from her mouth and opened her eyes to see Miss Cheerilee writing math problems out on the chalk board. Looking around, the pegasus realized she was in the middle of dozing off in class again. Scootaloo had tried so many times to stay awake, but it was a Friday afternoon and math was boring. Before she could nod off again, Apple Bloom poked her lightly with a pencil startling the pegasus and causing her to let out a small yelp.
"Did you have a question Scootaloo?" Miss Cheerilee asked looking over her shoulder with a sarcastic smile. Cheerilee had always been patient, even with the most unruly of students, but today was different. She had plans to meet Big Macintosh for dinner (as a friend, she told herself) but her eagerness made the day go by just a bit slower than usual.
The orange filly shook her head and gave a smile innocent enough to warrant a halo to appear over her purple mane. Miss Cheerilee shook her head and turned back to continue writing on the board.
Scootaloo glanced up at the clock.. five more minutes. Five.. long... minutes. She looked at the chalkboard for a moment and back at the clock squinting to make sure the minute hand didn't move a tick... in the opposite direction.
"Psst!" Apple Bloom whispered again. Scootaloo cautiously leaned over and cocked an ear.
"Are we still on fer' this afternoon?" the yellow filly asked. Scootaloo looked over to Sweetie Belle to see that she was more focused on humming to herself quietly and taking notes than her fellow crusader's schemes. Rolling her purple eyes, the orange pegasus leaned back over to Apple Bloom.
"Yeah, I'll meet you guys at the tree house later. This is going to be awesome!" Scootaloo whispered back with a smirk.
"Is it 'awesome' enough to share with the rest of the class?" a familiar voice asked.
Scootaloo felt a knot in her throat as she looked up to see Miss Cheerilee standing over her with the same smile as earlier. It wasn't happy, it wasn't angry, it was scary.
"Umm...I was telling Apple Bloom that.. uh..." The orange filly stammered before smiling to a response that jumped in her head. "Fractions are awesome!" Scootaloo called out wittingly causing the rest of the class to giggle amongst themselves. Except for Sweetie Belle, she was still in her own world of happily humming and writing.
"In that case, we can discuss how 'awesome' fractions are after..."
Cheerilee was interrupted by the bell announcing the end of the day causing her to look up at the clock. She smiled on the inside thinking of her quiet dinner for a moment. When she looked back down there was nothing but the afterimage of a young energetic pegasus filly running out the door. The rest of the class followed suit as Cheerilee had to hop backwards to avoid the stampede. The school teacher let out a sigh of relief as she walked over to her desk and took a seat. Looking around to make sure she was truly alone, Miss Cheeriliee reached into a drawer and pulled out a small bottle and poured a bit of it's contents into her coffee mug before putting it away. She took a slow sip of her cup and smiled to herself.
"Wow, ah think ya got under Miss Ceerilee's coat." Apple Bloom said in concern. "She looked really, really mad this time."
"Aw don't worry about her, besides' we got much cooler things to do." Scootaloo responded with a devious smile.
"Like what?" Sweetie Belle chimed in, blinking her green eyes in confusion. Both Apple Bloom and Scootaloo rolled their eyes in unison.
"What else are Cutie Mark Crusaders going to do? Get our cutie marks!" the orange pegasus revealed, fluttering her wings in excitement. "Let's meet up at the tree house later... ready?!"
Scootaloo smiled while reaching her hoof out. Both Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle stacked their hooves on top of her's.
"Cutie Mark Crusaders are go!" they all cheered together with a leap in the air. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle parted ways heading for their respective homes. Scootaloo strapped her helmet on and hopped on her scooter. Pressing down on an imaginary pedal, the orange pegasus fluttered her wings and shot down through the school yard.
"Hey watch it!" A voice called out, but it was already too late. Scootaloo bumped into something big and blue which sent her falling off her scooter and onto her back. The orange pegasus stumbled to her hooves and focused her eyes to see an angry set of dark blue ones meeting hers.
"Watch where you're going runt!" The colt snarled, furrowing his brow. Not being the one to back down, Scootaloo took an aggressive posture, getting into the colt's face until they bumped noses.
"You should've watched out Windsprint, it's not my fault you were too slow to get out of the way!" The orange pegasus snarled back narrowing her purple eyes.
"Too slow?!" Windsprint repeated, taking offense.
Several of the other little colts and fillies saw what was going on and formed a circle around the orange pegasus and light blue, dark blue maned earth colt. The animated crowd of students hopped around and stamped their hooves waiting for somepony to attack. Windsprint took a few seconds to look around at their new audience and smiled to a much better idea forming in his head.
"How about we settle this with a race, runt" the blue earth colt challenged.
"Any time.. anywhere." Scootaloo snapped back narrowing her eyes a bit more.
"Right here... right now..." Windsprint declared. "First one to the end of the road wins... and I'll even let you use your scooter!"
Scootaloo stared into Windsprint's eyes as the thought about the challenge. Everypony at school knew Windsprint was the fastest runner in the class. He even placed third in last year's running of the leaves. But if she was allowed to use her scooter, she might be able to take him.
The younger students lined up along the path cheering. Snips and Snails drew lines at the start of the dirt road to signify the starting line and Featherweight made a makeshift white flag. Windsprint was further behind Scootaloo stretching his powerful legs. Between stretches, he looked up to glare at Scootaloo who was more focused on the dirt trail in front of her while fluttering her wings in excitement. Coughing into his hoof to clear his throat, Snails announced the start of the race in a surprisingly professional tone.
Both racers finished their preparations and Wind Sprint lined up next to Scootaloo crouching down and dragging a front hoof on in the dirt in anticipation. The audience cheered and stamped their hooves on the ground in applause. Featherweight fluttered down a few feet in front of the two racers preparing to wave the flag. Wind Sprint let out a snort before looking over taunting Scootaloo.
"You're going down!"
This felt familiar Scootaloo thought to herself. Not too long ago Rainbow Dash told her, Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom the awesome story of how she raced against a pair of bullies and got her cutie mark. The story was so fresh in her mind that she even remembered the bully said the exact same thing to the young Rainbow Dash. A determined look formed on Scootaloo's face as she glared over to Windsprint quoting her role-model.
"In history maybe!"
Featherweight raised the flag causing both Scootaloo and Windsprint's eyes to narrow in concentration. Scootaloo's wings revved like a dirt bike as she licked her lips.
"This feeling... it must be what Rainbow Dash felt like when she had her first race."
A proud feeling swelled in the young pegasi's chest as she knew she wanted to be just like Rainbow Dash in every way possible. This was just one of many steps in the process.
The two ponies shot down the path like rockets leaving behind clouds of dust as their classmates cheered and followed as best they could, but it was no use. The two racers were already too far ahead and were steadily approaching the base of the hill. Once they reached the trail's flat, Windsprint gained a second burst of speed and took off in a full out sprint. Scootaloo shifted an imaginary gear and began to close in on him as best she could.
"Is that all you got?!" Wind Sprint teased as the orange pegasus sped up in next to him. Just as Scootaloo tried to inch past him, Wind Sprint bumped into her intentionally, causing her to spin out of control.
"See you at the finish line... loser!" Wind Sprint laughed as he left Scootaloo in a trail of dust.
Watching her dishonest opponent drift further away Scootaloo fluttered her wings and launched herself down the road to catch up. She gritted her teeth as her eyes flared with anger, resentment, and most important of all... determination!
Her tiny wings revved up to a higher pitch launching her down the trail with immeasurable amounts of acceleration. The wind resistance began cutting into her coat and mane like daggers, her purple eyes began to tear up blurring her vision. Her mouth went dry, muscles and ligaments in her wings began to tighten like twine ready to snap. It was an act of sheer willpower guiding Scootaloo to her destination.
The air pressure around the young pegasus cut into her more. She felt a strong force pressing into her chest, forcing the air out of her little lungs. Little knees began to buckle, screws began to loosen, metal creaked, wheels began to spark but then, nothing... Time seemed to be at a standstill for a brief moment as arcs of purple lightning began to dance off her orange wings. The now visible cone of wind fighting against Scootaloo let out a howl in anguish as she punched a hole through it.
With a loud explosion of thunder, the little scooter riding pegasus stretched and distorted into a purple and orange blur of lightning that cut into the road leaving behind twin trails of purple flames its wake.
The the finish line was barely a quarter mile away for Windsprint. Looking back one last time to make sure his little orange opponent wasn't in sight, he broke out of his sprint and into a more ginger gallop. Before the arrogant earth colt could laugh to himself, a thunderous explosion caused the earth colt to look back once more. Over the horizon, Windsprint could barely make out arcs of purple lightning. But it wasn't coming down from the sky... it was coming from the ground.
Panicked, Windsprint turned to his destination and lowered his head as he went into a full out sprint. His dark blue mane waved wildly as he continued to gallop. Then with a thunderous rumble under his hooves, Windsprint saw an orange and purple blur shoot under him.. the sky... the ground... the sky again... the ground getting closer... the sky one last time... and blackness followed by a loud thud and a concussive force that rippled through the colt's body.
WIndsprint opened his eyes, to see that he was lying between two trails of purple flame burning and cracking along the ground. He looked down the path to see an orangeish-purple blur speed past the finish line while uprooting bushes and tearing the leaves off the trees along the path. Windsprint's eyes widened as the only thing the young colt could say is...
Scootaloo skidded out of control for several feet leaving flaming doughnuts into the ground. Just as she was about to hit the wall archway leading to Ponyville's streets, she regained her control and slid to a halt. Her small orange wings twitched and fluttered sporadically for a few moments before folding at her back steaming. That was the fastest the filly had ever gone and it took it's toll on her small frame. Tossing her scratched and smoking purple helmet to the ground, Scootaloo stumbled off of her scooter and fell on her back breathing heavily barely able to keep her eyes open. Staring up at the blue cloudless sky, she could feel her eyelids getting heavy as everything went dark and aside from her breathing, everything was silent.
"That was the coolest thing I've ever seen!" an unusually cheerful voice called out.
Scootaloo's eyes shot open to see a smiling, yet equally exhausted Windsprant standing over her. As a sign of good sportsmanship, the blue earth pony held a fore-long out which Scootaloo grabbed as he pulled her stumbling up to her hooves.
"I don't like losing, but I can't compete with that!" Windsprint said in defeat, pointing over to the twin purple embers still scorching along the dirt trail. Scootaloo's eyes widened as her mouth fought a losing battle with her mind to find the right words, but could only let out a simple sound.
"I know right!" Windsprint agreed. He scratched the back of his neck nervously before continuing. "Hey, um... sorry about bumping you earlier, I just..." Windsprint trailed off, trying to apologize.
"It's cool, nopony likes to lose!" Scootaloo answered back smugly, while trying to sound forgiving, but failing miserably.
"You know what? You're alright kid." The blue earth colt complimented while holding a front hoof out. "We should do this again one day."
"You're on!" Scootaloo countered back proudly.
The two young ponies punched their hooves together laughing for a moment before Windsprint took off into town. Just before he got ready to turn the corner Windsprint tuned back waving to his new rival. Scootaloo waved back as Windsprint disappeared around the corner of one of the town's structures.
"Wow! I did it!" Scootaloo praised herself while pumping a hoof up to the sky. "I won my first race.. and an awesome race too... I don't even know what that thing was I did... but it was awesome, just like Rainbow... huh?!"
Feeling a warm presence on her hips, Scootaloo looked back to see a glowing light fading out on her flank. The light left behind the sparkling image of a spinning black tire with dark purple, light purple highlighted flames shooting out the back of it. The orange pegasus stared at her flank in disbelief. Purple eyes dilated, almost holding back tears, her mouth formed a wide smile, and her body began to convulse, unable to contain the excitement.
"This.. is.. AWESOME!"
Scootaloo's shouting echoed across the hills startling birds out of their nearby trees. The orange pegasus began jumping around in excitement feeling rejuvenated even though she pushed herself to her absolute limits just moments earlier.
"I got my cutie mark! I got my cutie mark! I got my cutie mark!" The filly cried out bouncing and flipping around. "I can't wait to show Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle..."
Scootaloo stopped in mid celebration. She was so caught up in the moment, that she had completely forgot about her fellow crusaders. They were supposed to meet at their tree house later for another adventure. She felt a knot in her throat and guilt began to weigh heavily on her back rooting her to the ground. They were the Cutie Mark Crusaders, and they were supposed to find their talents together. This could literally tear a rift between them, the pegasus thought to herself.
"What am I going to do?" Scootaloo said to herself with shrunken pupils. "I can't show them I have a cutie mark. What if they get jealous?" Scootaloo began pacing around in worry thinking to herself. She snapped to a complete halt to another realization.
It was just another peaceful day in Ponyville's market. Applejack was running the apple stand in Big Macintosh's place. Rose, Lilly and Daisy were busy restocking their flower shop and watering their plants. Lyra and Bon-Bon were sitting at a table outside the ice cream parlor sharing a banana split while Carrot Top tended to her new carrot dog wagon and was busy selling her product to a line of hungry customers.
A grey pegasus with a blonde mane emerged from Sugarcube Corner happily skipping across the street while balancing a particularly large muffin atop her head. The sound of thunder vibrated the cobblestones below her hooves causing her to freeze in place. With crossed golden eyes, she peered down the street and began to focus her vision in just enough time to see an orange and purple blur roar past her, causing her to spin out of control. Regaining her composure, the cross eyed pegasus angrily shook a hoof in the direction of the blur before realizing something missing from the top of her head. She looked up to see her freshly baked treat falling from the sky and spread her jaws wide, catching the muffin in her mouth and chewed on it with inflated cheeks while happily rubbing her belly.
"Apple Bloom? Sweetie Belle? Are you in there?" Scootaloo called out from the base of the tree house. Hearing no response the orange filly carefully shuffled up the steps stopping at the front door.
"Is anypony in there?" She asked one more time while pulling the door open and peeking inside... empty.
Rushing inside Scootaloo began looking around at the various supplies in their base. On the way to the tree house, she had settled on an idea: hide her cutie mark. At least for a little while, until she can get Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle their cutie marks. That way she could still be a Cutie Mark Crusader. It was the perfect plan, but she needed something to hide her mark. The orange pegasus ran a hoof through her mane while looking around. Eventually her purple eyes locked on to a makeup kit that Sweetie Belle 'borrowed' from her sister Rarity.
She looked around some more and saw a stack of paint cans and brushes that Apple Bloom 'borrowed' from Big Macintosh.
Scootaloo began to pace around the room in frustration. She needed something to cover up her cutie mark, and fast. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle could be showing up any minute now. Walking around the room, her eyes drifted over the paint in consideration again until she absentmindedly bumped into something soft, causing her to fall down as a large roll of cloth fell on her head. Scootaloo looked down at the cloth angrily.
"Dumb fabric!" She called out, before reaching a hoof out to pick the orange roll back up. "Hey, wait a minute..."
Laying her hoof on the disheveled cloth, she noticed that it matched the color of her coat perfectly. Scootaloo, quickly tore off two patches and grabbed the rubber cement from the table in the middle of the room. With a dab of paste on her flanks, she slapped the patches of fabric on and fluttered her wings hoping the air would help it dry. It felt kind of icky, and smelled a bit funny, but it was the perfect disguise... for now.
"This' gonna be fun!" A familiar and country voice called from outside, followed by a pair of giggles. The tree house door flew open as Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom entered. Startled, Scootaloo quickly tossed the jar of glue into a nearby toy chest and looked back at her fellow crusaders with an awkward smile.
"Hey Scootaloo, ahm glad yer here." Apple Bloom greeted her orange companion. "Did'ja bring the rope?"
Scootaloo completely forgot their plains for this evening. Sweetie Belle was supposed to get some life vests, Apple Bloom was supposed to gather some water skis, and Scootaloo was supposed to get the-
"Rope?" the orange pegasus asked realizing her blunder.
Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom looked at each other before rolling their eyes. It was Scootaloo's idea to try water skiing at the lake, but she was the one that forgot her part of the supplies.
"Don't worry bout it Scoots, Ah think there's some extra rope in the barn. Let's go!" Apple Bloom cheered as she left out the front door. Sweetie Belle sniffed the air as she left out behind the earth filly.
"Does anypony else smell glue?"
After a quick detour to Sweet Apple Acres to 'borrow' some rope, the three Cutie Mark Crusaders headed for the lake.
"I'm not too sure about this girls..." Scootaloo commented with a shaky voice. She was sitting in a makeshift dinghy while Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle were securing their life vests. Normally the little orange filly would jump at a chance like this to do yet another act of daredevilry, but this time was different. Already having her cutie mark, she felt a bit bothered by doing something so reckless. But deep down inside, she knew that she had her work cut out for her. It still didn't feel right though.
"Girls?" the pegasus called out trying to get the attention of Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle, who were preoccupied with securing their ropes on the tiny boat. The yellow earth pony finally broke out of her concentration and looked up at Scootaloo tilting her head.
"What's gotten into ya Scootaloo? You've been actin' funny since the tree house." Apple Bloom complained.
"It's nothing, I just thought we should try something ...less dangerous?"
Both Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle looked at each other before looking at Scootaloo in concern.
"Are you okay Scootaloo?" Sweetie Belle asked. "This was your idea."
"I know, it's just that-" Before Scootaloo could finish her sentence, Apple Bloom gave her a hard slap on her flank causing the orange pegasus to rev her wings up like a motor and shoot the tiny boat reeling through the water. The remaining two crusaders secured themselves into their water skis and gripped the quickly unraveling ropes tightly.
"Apple Bloom?" Sweetie Belle asked, causing her friend to look at her. "Have you noticed something different about Scootaloo?"
"Nah, she's prolly feelin a bit Chick- WHOAAAAAaaa!" The yellow earth pony tried to answer before being yanked into the waters by her rope. Sweetie Belle simply blinked her eyes in confusion.
"A bit chick-YAAAAaaaaa!" the little unicorn tried to repeat before being pulled along with her friend.
"You guys okay back there?!" Scootaloo shouted over her shoulder while steering the sail of the tiny boat. With no answer, she woefully looked back expecting to see two vacant ropes slapping along the turbulent waters. But instead, she saw Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle holding on tightly skimming the water waving back smiling.
"Yeah, we're okay Scoots. Punch it!" Apple Bloom called out pumping a free hoof in the air.
"Yeah, punch it!" Sweetie Belle parroted with a cracking voice.
Scootaloo turned her attention back to the waters with a determined look in her eyes.
"Okay, hold on tight!"
Fluttering her wings and giving off the sound of a commercial sized motor, the creaky boat shot through the waters at a higher velocity. Both Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle laughed as they began weaving between each other along the waves.
"Scootaloo, the ramp!" Apple Bloom called out pointing to an old wooden incline resting in the waters ahead. Giving a quick nod in acknowledgement, the orange pegasus pulled at the tiller, steering towards the ramp. Suddenly, she felt a familiar feeling, almost like lightning shooting from her wings.
The boat began skipping against the water rapidly as arcs of purple lightning danced from Scootaloo's wings and along the vessel. Fragmented pieces of wood began to shoot off the sides of the small boat, the wind sail began to tear and dishevel, creaking sounds began to moan from all around the orange pegasus. Suddenly, the jib unraveled and shot up in the air. Whatever happened during the race, it was happening again, and she couldn't control it.
"Scootaloo! What're ya doing?! Slow down!" Apple Bloom cried out, bouncing against the water violently. But it was already too late. With a loud explosion of thunder and purple lighting arcing wildly, the little boat shot through the waters like a torpedo pulling the two crusaders in tow holding on for dear life. Desperately trying to regain control, Scootaloo strained herself trying to stop her little wings, but to no avail. With nothing left to do, the orange filly gripped the mast of the tiny boat as if it were a lifeline and gritted her teeth.
A plum coated mare sat lazily under the shade of a tree at the end of the lake cradling a dark bottle. Scratching at her grape and strawberry cutie mark, the mare let out a loud yawn. Just as her misty eyes opened, she caught the glimpse of a small boat arcing into the air with two fillies in tow. Her eyes followed the whole event and winced at the sight of the boat crashing into the lake shooting up a pillar of water. Letting out a hiccup, the mare took a swig of her bottle and looked at the label in admiration before passing out with her eyes rolled in the back of her head.
Apple Bloom's head shot up from under the murky waters. Coughing up water and gasping for air, she looked around frantically for the other two crusaders. The only thing in direct sight was the capsized boat drifting along the waters. The sky had begun to darken and thunder could be heard echoing in the distance.
"Scootaloo... Sweetie Belle...." the yellow earth filly called out. But there was no answer. Taking a deep breath, Apple Bloom pedaled toward the boat's separated mast and called out again.
"Sweetie Belle... Scootaloo... can ya hear me?!"
"Over here!" a familiar cracking voice called out. Apple Bloom looked behind her to see Sweetie Belle hugging a plank waving.
"Where's Scootaloo?" The earth pony called out. Sweetie Belle shook her head causing Apple Bloom's eyes to widen in distress. Inhaling deeply, the yellow filly dove into the water looking around frantically. Several yards away, she could see a blurry orange body sinking. Apple Bloom swam as fast as she could to catch up to the rapidly sinking mass. Before she could get anywhere near her friend, a light purple energy enveloped the young pegasus, pulling her to the surface. Apple Bloom rubbed her eyes in disbelief and swam back up for air. The earth filly looked around, there was no sign of Scootaloo or Sweetie Belle in the water. The waves intensified as Apple Bloom happened to look ashore to see small beach and Scootaloo lying lifelessly while Sweetie Belle was giving her chest compressions. With all her might, she swam to her friends against the crashing waves and made it to the beach.
"Is she gonna be okay?" Apple Bloom asked in concern galloping along the beachhead. Sweetie Belle stopped her compressions and laid a cheek near Scootaloo's muzzle before looking up in concern.
"I don't know yet." Sweetie Belle whimpered. "She's still not breathing."
Apple Bloom began pacing around nervously, but not just in concern for Scootaloo. Something else was bothering her, that mysterious light that rescued the pegasus. She couldn't get it out of her mind.
"Sweetie Bell, when ah saw Scootaloo sinking below, ah couldn't get to her because of the currents. But there was this weird light that seemed ta pull-"
Before Apple Bloom could get her point across, Scootaloo's body convulsed as she sat up and spewed out a river of liquid. The orange filly looked around sleepily for a moment before falling to her back unconscious, breathing, but unconscious.
"I think she's going the be okay." Sweetie Belle said with tears gathering up on the outer corners of her eyes. Apple Bloom sighed in relief and sat down next to the unconscious crusader and brushed the wet purple mane out of her face.
"Hey, what's that?" Sweetie Belle asked pointing to Scootaloo's flank. Apple Bloom narrowed her eyes to see what looked like a part of the orange filly's coat peeling off. The two crusaders exchanged glances before Sweetie Belle peeled off the wet fabric to reveal-
"A cutie mark?!" Apple Bloom exclaimed.
Apple Bloom looked back up to Sweetie Bell and could have sworn she was smiling, but looked just as shocked when she made eye contact with the earth pony. Soon the awkward silence was broken up by Scootaloo beginning to groan and stir causing both earth and unicorn fillies to divert their attention back to their fellow crusader.
"Ugh, what happened..." Scootaloo asked groggily while stumbling to her hooves. She looked to her two friends who where looking back at her blankly. Then it hit her, they weren't staring at her, they were staring at her cutie mark. The sudden shock of being found out hit Scootaloo with mixed feelings of guilt, and uncertainty that almost knocked the wind out of her. It wasn't just a mark signifying her special talent anymore, it marked the end of the Cutie Mark Crusaders.
"I guess this is it huh? It's probably for the better... It was fun while it lasted." Scootaloo said flatly, turning away with her head lowered. Without even looking back, she began walking up the sandy incline of the beach.
"For the better?" Sweetie Belle asked in confusion. The unicorn looked to Apple Bloom, but she had already gotten up to confront the pegasus.
"Scootaloo, wait!" Apple Bloom called out. Scootaloo never turned back to say anything. When the yellow earth pony caught up to her and placed a hoof on her shoulder, the pegasus snapped back with unexpected hostility.
"Leave me alone!" Scootaloo barked in anger. "I know you don't want me around anymore."
"What're ya talkin about?" Apple Bloom asked in genuine concern. She reached out for Scootaloo again, but was pushed down the sandy hill by the stubborn pegasus. Completely shocked, Sweetie Belle could only react by placing her front hooves over her mouth and letting out a silent gasp. She was used to seeing Apple Bloom and Scootaloo fighting, but this time it was different... it scared her. Seeing her friends fighting like this, Sweetie Belle worked up the courage to speak up.
"Scootaloo, stop it." the unicorn interjected with a cracked voice. Sweetie Belle walked between her two fellow crusaders and stared at the orange pegasus with eyes dilating with emotion. "You don't have to go anywhere, look..."
"No, you look!" Scootaloo interrupted, sighing with dejection. "I'm leaving because I want to... don't make this any harder."
"You don't have to go... just look..."
Frustrated, Scootaloo pushed Sweetie Belle down the hill sending her crashing into Apple Bloom. Unable to bear the sight of her two friends struggling to stand up, the pegasus looked away clenching her eyes shut. If she was going to get her point across, it was going to take drastic measures.
"Don't you get it? I don't want to hang out with you... you..." the pegasus stammered. Unable to contain her tears, Scootaloo drew in a labored breath and shouted something she never wanted to say about another pony, let alone Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle.
The derogatory shout echoed through the horizon scaring up birds from the tall grass around the lake. Scootaloo stared down at the two fillies in tearful rage. The only thing that broke the dead silence was another rumble of thunder.
"Just leave me alone..." Scootaloo sobbed, running away.
The little pegasus climbed out of the beach and onto the main road. She got as far as Ponyville's main street before a river of tears ran from her eyes. But she never looked back, this was the end. Not because she wanted it, because it needed to be done. But however right it felt, it didn't take away the painful sting in her heart. Scootaloo had earned her cutie mark... but lost her friends.
The chorus of thunder reigned in the sky with increased intensity, followed by the pounding of rain drops. Both Apple Bloom and Sweetie Bell sat in the sand with their heads lowered. Neither one of them spoke, just a few quiet sobs amongst themselves. With another rumble of thunder echoing across the sky, Sweetie Belle decided to get up and climb the hill.
"Sweetie Belle? Where ya goin?" Apple Bloom cried out.
Wiping the tears from her eyes, Sweetie Belle looked back with a warm smile. Apple Bloom's amber eyes widened in shock at the sight of a purple energy gathering at the tip of the little unicorn's horn.
The rain had intensified into a steady shower that formed puddles along the main streets of Ponyville. After leaving the lake, Scotaloo had broken into a full gallop crying to herself the whole way. All she wanted were things to go back to the way they were before. More adventures, more schemes, the feeling of belonging somewhere. The thought of going back to make amends with her friends took too much of the orange filly's attention, causing her to trip and fall. Scootaloo lied in the middle of the street crying into her hooves cursing her stubbornness and wishing she never got her cutie mark.
Scootaloo looked up but couldn't find the source of the singing, but noticed a mysterious spotlight shining down and a blanket of purple fog around her. The little pegasus sat up on her haunches with her eyes closed and her head lowered still sniffling.
Scootaloo smiled to herself over the nostalgic warmth the verses carried. One final tear ran down her cheek as she threw her head back and shouted off key.
"Wow, we really need to work on that song." a cracking voice giggled. Scootaloo tracked it's source to see both Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle emerging from the mist approaching her.
"I guess I wasn't meant to be a singer." Scootaloo said, sarcastically smiling to the two fillies before lowering her head again. "But that doesn't matter anymore does it?"
"It depends on what you think is really important." Sweetie Belle replied vaguely. The unicorn clenched her eyes shut in strain and gathered a spark of light purple energy at the tip of her horn. Apple Bloom and Scootaloo looked on as the mist quickly dispersed and the mysterious spotlight shining down on them faded out. The energy fizzled out on Sweetie Belle's horn as she dizzily plopped down to a sitting position. "I still need to practice..." the unicorn said stroking her temples and fluttering her eyes. Scootaloo looked over at Apple Bloom who simply shrugged her shoulders.
"Since when could you do that." Scootaloo asked.
"Since I got this."
Sweetie Belle dipped her hoof into a nearby puddle and began scrubbing at her flank. After the few moments, the powder like substance began to rub off, revealing a light purple heart wrapped in a ribbon like musical score. Apple Bloom scratched the back of her neck looking at Sweetie Belle.
"So that mysterious light that pulled Scootaloo outta the water..." Apple Bloom began to ask. Sweetie Belle nodded before looking down digging a front hoof into the ground embarrassed.
"Rarity told me unicorns can't use magic until they find their special talent." the white unicorn revealed. "So I borrowed my sister's waterproof make-up to hide my cutie mark and kept my magic a secret. I didn't want you guys to be jealous."
"You too? Ah can't believe it..." Apple Bloom sighed heavily putting a hoof up to her face. Both Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo exchanged glances in concern for their earth pony friend.
"Don't worry Apple Bloom, we'll help you get your cutie mark." Sweetie Belle said, giving Scootaloo a quick poke to her side.
"Yeah, there's plenty of stuff we haven't tried yet." the pegasus added, approaching the yellow filly to console her.
Suddenly, Apple Bloom began giggling to herself until she broke out in a full on laugh. Scootaloo looked back to Sweetie Belle, who simply reacted by tilting her head at their friend's reaction. Once Apple Bloom managed to regain her composure, she wet her tail in a puddle of water and scrubbed off a layer of paint off her flank to reveal an abstractly painted apple surrounded by a decorative picture frame. Sweetie Belle applauded at the revealed cutie mark, but Scootaloo turned away in discomfort and sat down. Both Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle ended their celebration and approached the sad looking pegasus.
"I'm sorry about earlier." Scootaloo said, too upset to look at the two crusaders. "I was so afraid that you didn't want to be my friends anymore after I got my cutie mark. I thought if I broke up our friendship myself..." Scootaloo turned her head away sobbing "...it wouldn't hurt so much."
Scootaloo clenched her eyes shut trying to hold back her tears but felt two bodies press against her sides and around her neck. She looked down to see both Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle hugging her tightly.
"It's okay Scootaloo, we know you didn't mean it." Sweetie Belle answered back smiling tearfully.
"Look at how much we care bout' each other, we all hid our cutie marks to spare each others feelins." Apple Bloom added burying her face in the filly's orange coat. "It jus shows we're best friends though an through, ain't nothin' gonna take that away."
The misty eyed Scootaloo smiled and put her fore-longs around the two fillies. "Friends forever..."
Apple Bloom looked up and backed away after a realization hit her. "But what're we gonna do now?"
Upon the earth filly's realization, Sweetie Belle broke out of the embrace too. "Yeah, now that we have our cutie marks, we can't be Cutie Mark Crusaders, can we?"
Scootaloo frowned for a moment, but her eyes instantly popped open as if a light bulb appeared over her head. She gave her two friends a sly smile that usually indicated a plan in the works.
Apple Bloom sat in the tree house looking at a large canvas happily humming to herself. She stopped for a moment to reach her fore-hooves out and closed an eye in an attempt to mentally frame the painting. The filly tilted her head slightly, smiled and used her mouth to pull a small paintbrush out of a nearby jar of to make a few precise strokes on the picture and stood back again squinting. Finally satisfied, Apple Bloom walked back to the jar and replaced the brush.
"Hey Apple Bloom, are you in there?" a cracking voice called out.
The tree house door creaked open as Sweetie Belle entered looking around and gasped at the state of their base. A paint stained tarp took up the majority of the room with several opened jars scattered all over the table. It didn't look like much of a base anymore, it looked like the studio of a crazed artist.
"Apple Bloom! We need to clean this up, somepony could be here any minute." Sweetie Belle whined. The unicorn concentrated and began levitating and resealing the paint jars from the table, blanketed in a light purple haze.
"Sorry bout' that, but ahm just about done." Apple Bloom replied, still staring at the canvas and waving a fore-long out in a disregarding manner.
Sweetie Belle sent the paint jars to rest on a nearby shelf and began approaching her friend while magically sending a collection of dirty paint brushes into a bucket in the corner. "Almost done with... wow!" the unicorn almost dropped the bundle of brushes in astonishment, but regained her concentration in just enough time. "Is that what I think it is?" Sweetie Belle asked with widened green eyes.
"Eyup, ah wanted to paint a memory of that day, but never got around to it." Apple Bloom answered, still admiring the canvas. "At least 'till now."
"It's beautiful..." Sweetie Belle replied, with her eyes still locked on the image. She completely dismissed the idea of cleaning and silently took a seat next to Apple Bloom. The silence was broken however, by the tree house door slamming open with Scootaloo standing in the doorway.
"So I posted a few ads up around town, it's only a matter of time before... Hey! What happened in here? We need to clean this up before... whoa..." Scootaloo trailed off after she made eye contact with what Apple Bloom was working on. The orange filly lost her entire train of thought and simply walked over to sit down with Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle staring at the painting.
"Apple Bloom? is that from..."
Starry eyed, the three fillies continued to stare at the painting of one of their most cherished memories. A stylized painting of an orange pegasus with a purple mane, a yellow earth pony with a red mane, and a white unicorn with a light purple, light pink mane embracing each other in the rain. Unlike other memories they may have had since the Cutie Mark Crusaders were formed, this was the most meaningful. Not just because it was the day the three of them found out they already had their cutie marks. It was the day they found something more important than their special talents... their friendship.
"Um, is this where we come to get our cutie marks?"
Scootaloo, Apple Bloom, and Sweetie Belle simultaneously looked behind them to see an eerily familiar sight. Three little ponies, only a couple of years younger than them were standing in the doorway looking on sheepishly. Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom both looked at Scootaloo as she got up and approached the three young ponies smiling warmly.