Scootaloo was fast. She was very fast, but only on her scooter, of course. Not being able to fly was one of the worst ways to let down her parents, and to let herself down. At least she had her scooter. This scooter gave her freedom, and mobility. The speeds she reached matched to that of any galloping earth pony, and faster.
Going fast was everything to her, and being able to maneuver around anything that got in her way. Like the lamp post quickly approaching her. A quick lean to the side, a half flip, and she was around it. Next came the mailbox at Rose’s house, she leapt over that, and continued without the slightest sign of effort. “Nailed it.” She said to herself.
Scoots rounded the corner, heading toward Sugarcube Corner. The smell of cupcakes and pies was growing stronger with every passing second. She took in a big sniff and continued to advance toward the bakery shop. Flying past Lily and her flower stand, Scootaloo waved and zipped by, but she went to fast for Lily to see. Shifting her weight to her back hooves, she popped a wheelie and braked just in front of the steps to the Cake’s shop.
Getting off, Scoots folded the handles in and down, and hid it in the bushes. Looking at the clock in the shop next door, she saw that she had made it to the store in record time, just less than three minutes from her house to here. Checking to make sure she had money with her for food, Scoots trotted inside to sit down at the nearest table, and to greet her two best friends. “Hey girls, how’s it going?”
“Great!” Apple Bloom said.
“As my sister would say, ‘Simply marvelous darling’.” Sweetie Belle answered. The three fillies giggled at the impression. “But yeah, things are good, and you?”
“Well, I got her in record time today.” Scoots replied. “I beat last week’s time by five seconds.”
“Sweet!” Sweetie said. “You’re getting really fast on that scooter.”
“Yeah. Ah bet you’ll be the fastest scooter ridin’ pony in all of Equestria someday.” Apple Bloom added.
“Thanks. That would be so awesome.” Scootaloo said. “So, what’s the plan to earn our cutie marks today?”
“Mah sister told me that there was going to be a big ol’ track n’ field thing down at the park today.” Apple Bloom said.
“Oh. Hey, maybe we can earn our cutie marks there. “Sweetie said.” There are tons of things to do at a track and field meet. Like galloping, javelin throwing, shot-put, hammer swing, discus, pole vaulting, and long jumping. “
“Oh yeah? That sounds promising. So many choices mean we have more chances to earn our cutie marks.” Scootaloo said. “I say we should head there as soon as possible.”
Mrs. Cake trotted out of the kitchen with a fresh batch of muffins. Half of them she gave to the mailmare waiting in the doorway, who thanked her and bumped into the door on the way out. The rest were placed on the display counter next to a sign that said: “Try our new Oatmeal and cinnamon breakfast muffin. It’ll keep you going all day.”
The tree fillies trotted up to the counter, and grabbed the new muffins. Paying for the breakfast, the Cutie Mark Crusaders at the surprisingly good meal, and went on to face the day.
The three fillies soon arrived at the park, where the registration for the day’s activities was already under way. Scootaloo parked the scooter with the now attached wagon next to a tree. Then they trotted over to the tables that had been set up in front of a first aid tent. “Come on girls.” Scoots said, trying to hurry them up. “It looks like the line is starting to get longer; we don’t want to wait all day just to register, do we?”
“Of course not!” Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle answered in unison.
“Then let’s get a move on.” Scootaloo replied as she headed for the nearest table. She and the others were greeted by a very friendly looking mare. She had on a sun-visor over her short, blonde mane; her tail was being tied together with what looked to be a sweat band, and she had a whistle for a cutie mark.
“Well hello there my little ponies.” She said as they reached the table. “I take it you three would like to join in the competition today?”
“Yes ma’am.” They answered.
“My name is Coach Hoofstrong. I just happen to be the one in charge of this event. So let’s get you fillies registered.” She said. Turning around, she called out. “FILLYS! I GOT A FEW PONIES WHO NEED TO REGISTER.”
“Coming Mrs. Hoofstrong.” The mare called from inside one of the tents. She came out of the tent, carrying three stapled forms in her mouth. Her large glasses glinted in the morning sun. “Names please.”
“Apple Bloom.” Said the first.
“Sweetie Belle.” The unicorn continued.
“Scootaloo.” The Pegasus finished.
“Gender, age, height, weight, wing-span/strength/magical prowess, education, cutie mark, mane color, medications you currently use…” Fillys listed out until being interrupted by Coach.
“Whoa, wait a sec girl. They’re just little fillies, this isn’t some official hubbub, and it’s a fun day in the park. Let them go on and just put the names on the list.”
“Fine, I will.” The secretary said. “Hurry along now. The first event starts in about five minutes.”
“Thank you Miss.” Sweetie said.
The Cutie Mark Crusaders waited out the five minutes under a tree, talking about past experiences. The many failures in trying to find their cutie marks were mentioned, but so were the laughs and fun memories that they had shared. Soon after, a whistle was blown and Coach Hoofstrong called out for the contestants. “Everypony line up for the Hammer Toss.” She said.
“So, who wants to do this one?” Scootaloo asked.
“Ah guess a try won’t hurt.” Apple Bloom answered. She got up and went over to the line of ponies waiting for the pony in front of them.
The line moved at a steady pace. Everypony was given a hammer that was weighted to their specific strength. The pony giving out the hammers took one look at Apple Bloom, and held out the smallest hammer. She grabbed the handle in her mouth, and began to spin as her friends cheered her on. Faster and faster she spun, all the while her vision becoming more and more blurred. Finally at the point that she felt she couldn’t go any faster, Apple Bloom released the hammer and sat down hard. Her vision cleared and the world stopped spinning. She looked up to see her score, and was disappointed. “Negative four feet? That’s how far Ah threw it?” Her face slumped, and she trotted back to the tree that her friends were under. “Ah guess ahm not as strong as ah thought ah was.” She said solemnly.
“Cheer up.” Scootaloo encouraged her. “We have plenty of chances to earn our cutie marks today.”
“Yeah, and the next event is long-jumping. We should be good at that one.” Sweetie added.
“Ah guess so.” Apple Bloom said. “Then we should probably get goin’. Huh?”
“Yep!” Scoots answered. “I'm gonna get in on the action this time.”
“So, why didn’t ya do the hammer toss?” Apple Bloom asked.
“Strength isn’t really my thing.” Scootaloo answered. “But speed and maneuverability are.”
“Then the long-jump should be perfect for you.” Sweetie Belle said. “And there won’t be any suspicions of you cheating because, you know, you can’t fly and stuff.”
“I know I can’t fly.” Scoots said, obviously hurt. “And what, do you think I would cheat.”
“No. I never said that.” Sweetie defended.
“But that’s what you meant.” Scoots suggested angrily.
“Now hold on there, Scootaloo. “ Apple Bloom said, trying to calm the young Pegasus. “She never said that you would cheat if you had the chance.”
“You right,” Scoots said sarcastically. “She never said that I would cheat, but she meant that I would.”
“No I didn’t.” Sweetie said. “Why would I?”
“Of course she didn’t.” Apple Bloom agreed.
“Oh come on!” Scoots responded. “How could you be so blind?”
“Well ah may be blind, but you’re the one whose acting stupid.” Apple Bloom retorted.
“Well,” Scoots said as the first signs of a tear welled up in her. “I guess you two can do the rest of the track and field stuff without me.” Then she galloped off through the trees, past Sweet Apple Acres, and into the Everfree forest.
“Well that could have gone better.” Sweetie said.
“No kiddin’.” Apple Bloom agreed. “We should probably go lookin’ for her.”
“Give her some time.” Sweetie Bell said. “She will probably come back some time after she has calmed down.”
“Maybe, maybe not.” Apple Bloom responded. “It all depends on how hurt she was.”
“Well, she is Scootaloo.” Sweetie suggested. “She’ll be back to her old self in no time.”
“Ah sure hope so.” Apple Bloom breathed.
“Me too,” Sweetie said, sighing. “Me too.”
Anger. Rage. Hatred. Okay, maybe not hatred. Regret? Denial? Scootaloo didn’t know what she was feeling as she galloped aimlessly through the Everfree Forest. Tears streaked down her face as she sped past any, and every, creature or plant imaginable. Tons of trees loomed over her as she went deeper into the strange forest. She finally slowed to a stop, at a cliff edge, and just stood there. “WHY!?” She yelled to nopony in particular. “WHY CAN’T I FLY!?” The sound of her shouting echoed throughout the area. Suddenly, the ground below her began to move on its own. Realizing the danger she had just gotten herself into, Scootaloo tried to flee from the spot she was standing on. She was, unfortunately, too late in her efforts, and was swept down the side of the cliff, along with various rocks, stones, roots, and tons of dirt.
Sliding down the face of a steep cliff is not a fun thing to do, but Scootaloo was actually enjoying herself, for what it was worth anyway, but she realized that she couldn’t fall forever, and that she needed to find a safe place to land. Scanning around, she checked her options. To her left were tree roots that she might be able to grab, but that involved a lot of risk. Too her right was a large ledge sticking out of the cliff face. But she might not be able to make that jump. Right in front of her was a fast-flowing river rapid. The risk involved with making the jump of the flowing mass of dirt and rock she was currently on, and colliding with the rapids, was massive. But it had to be her best shot at surviving. With a big breath, and a quick plea to survive, Scoots made the jump. The blue of the river rushed toward her in a blur, and she soon found herself crashing into the rapids. Choking as the impact knocked the air out of her, Scoots made a mad effort to get to the surface for some air. Her lungs were on fire, her wings were flapping faster than she had ever done before, and her hooves flailed everywhere, all just to fight against the rushing current of the river rapids. Panic filled her voice, but she knew that screaming would not help her. She tried to calm herself down as she aimed for the side of the river. Finally grasping what felt like solid land, Scoots pulled with all of her strength, only to be swept back into the rapids. A continuing roar began to grow in her ears, and it confused her. “What could make that loud of a sound?” She wondered in her head. “Oh. I know what can… Celestia help me.” The final thought process went through her head. Then her already battered body flew over the large waterfall, and into the calmer river below. Finally surfacing, Scootaloo gasped for breath, and swam to shore. Finally back on dry land, she hacked up all the excess water she had swallowed in her little river ride, and began to analyze her surroundings. She saw that this slow moving river continued to stretch for a long way, so she figured her best bet would be to follow the river as far as it would go. So she got up, shook herself mostly dry, and began to follow the river. About three minutes later, she noticed her stomach rumbling, and she groaned. “I can’t believe I'm missing lunch.” She said, but she continued onward.
“Ahm, worried.” Apple Bloom said to Sweetie Bell, who responded with a muffled, “Hmfhgh, hmun, rrfngrfhmnhf.”
“What was that?” Apple Bloom asked.
Sweetie finished chewing the bite of sandwich, swallowed, and repeated her previous statement. “I said, yeah she never misses lunch.”
“What if she’s lost? Er worse, what if she got hurt.” Apple Bloom said, beginning to panic.
“Don’t worry, it’s not like she fell off a cliff or anything like that.” Sweetie said, shrugging.
“Well if she did, then you could say that it’s yer own fault.” Apple Bloom reminded her.
“Okay, so what if I do say that she couldn’t cheat by flying, it was a joke.” Sweetie Defended.
“But you know how Scoots gets when ya talk about her not flyin’.” Apple Bloom said.
“Yeah, I guess I did hit a bad nerve back there, but you called her stupid.” Sweetie Suggested. “Maybe we should find her and apologize.”
“I know what ah said, and I want to apologize too. That is, if we could even find her.” Apple Bloom said. “It looked to me like she was headed toward mah place.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Sweetie asked.
“What if she’s not at Sweet Apple Acres?” Apple Bloom asked. “Where else could she go?”
“The, um,” Sweetie thought. “Wait, the Everfree Forest? Is that it?”
“Yeah, ah think so.” Apple Bloom answered.
“That would mean we have no hope of finding her.” Sweetie said. “This means we can’t apologize to her.”
“Let’s just hope she went to mah house, instead of that creepy forest.” Apple Bloom suggested. “And if we need to go looking in the forest, we could always ask for Zecora’s help.”
“Sounds like a plan.” Sweetie agreed. “Now, let’s go find our friend. We need to reunite the Cutie Mark Crusaders.”
“Yah bet we do.” Apple Bloom said.” First to Sweet Apple Acres, and if she isn’t there, then we will go to Zecora’s house to ask for help in the Everfree Forest.”
Sweetie trotted up to Coach Hoofstrong and said, “Excuse me ma’am.”
“Yeah, what is it?” Hoofstrong asked.
“Me and my friend are leaving now,” Sweetie said. “If you see an orange Pegasus with a purple mane, could you tell her that we went looking for her at Sweet Apple Acres?”
“Only if you do something for me.” The coach said.
“And what might that be?” Apple Bloom asked.
“If you see a really strong, white Pegasus with a buzz-cut yellow mane,” She said. “Could you tell him that his mom told him to be back here two hours ago?”
“Of course ma’am.” Sweetie said.
“Thanks.” Coach replied.
“Come on Sweetie, we don’t have much time.” Apple Bloom said urgently.
“Okay, okay,” Sweetie Bell responded. “I'm going.”
Scootaloo tried to stop every once and awhile, just to keep her strength up. She finally reached a bend in the flow of the river, and saw somepony new. He was a large serpent, with a huge orange mane, and an orange mustache. Scoots saw him as she came to the mend in the river, and immediately stopped in her tracks. She stood there motionless, frozen by fright. The serpent turned around and saw her standing there. He leaned down to her and said, “Well hellooo there. I haven’t seen a pony around here in foreeever.”
“Please, don’t hurt me.” Scootaloo said timidly, knowing that she had no chance of overpowering the sea creature.
“Now why in Equestria would I do that?” He asked.
“I don’t actually know.” Scootaloo said.
“Exaaaactly.” He responded. “By the way, my name is Steven Magnet.”
“Uh, okay.” She replied. “I'm Scootaloo.”
“That’s just fine.” Steven replied. “But you look lost, are you?”
“You could say that.” Scoots said.
“Would you like to cross the river?” He asked.
“Uh, I guess so.” She replied.
“Then allow me to assist you.” He said. Diving below the surface of the river, he came back up with sections of his long for above the surface, in the shape of stepping stones. Scootaloo thanked him, and hopped across. As she reached the other side, Steven turned around and asked, “By the waaay, do you know that fashionable white pony that helped me out a while ago?”
“You mean Rarity?” Scoots asked.
“I believe so.” He replied.
“Yeah, why?” She said.
“Oh, I just wanted to thank her again for the help she gave me.”
“Sure, I’ll thank her for you.” Scootaloo said. Then she continued down the conveniently worn path she was on.
It had already grown closer to sunset by the time the two fillies arrived at Sweet Apple Acres.
“It sure is hard to get around town without Scootaloo, ain't it Sweetie Bell?” Apple Bloom said as she wiped the sweat off her forehead with the back of her hoof.
“Yeah, it… is.” Sweetie responded between gasps of air. “I, really… need to, get… a scooter like, her… huh?”
“Well, maybe if you hadn’t realized we’d left her scooter at the park, when we were already halfway here.” Apple Bloom said matter-of-factly. “Then we woulda had one to use.”
“But it was such a long trot back,” Sweetie explained. “It would have taken us forever to get here.”
“It took us forever to get here anyway.” Apple Bloom muttered under her breath as she opened the door to her house.
“What was that?” Sweetie asked.
“Oh, it was nuthin’.” Apple Bloom answered nonchalantly.
“Sure it was.” Sweetie said sarcastically.
Granny Smith came into the kitchen at that moment, so the two fillies decided to ask her if she had seen Scootaloo.
“I don’t believe so,” The elderly pony said. “Not since yesterday, when you three were out n’ about tryin’ ta git yer cutie marks er sumthin’. Why? Is she missin’?”
“Well,” Apple Bloom began. “Kinda, sorta…”
“No, we were playing hide and seek.” Sweetie Bell interrupted.
“Well, go luck to ya.” Granny said. She then sat down in her rocking chair and immediately fell into a deep slumber, snoring as loud as anypony ever could. “ZZZZZ, SHNORK, FFLIN, ZZZZZ.” It echoed throughout the house.
“C’mon.” Apple Bloom said to Sweetie as then stared at the sleeping mare. “Let’s go before she starts talking in her sleep.”
“How can you sleep when she snores so loud?” Sweetie asked as they exited the home.
“We don’t listen.” Apple Bloom said. “We were ear protection.”
“To protect you from…?” Sweetie asked.
“Permanent audio damage.” She responded.
Scootaloo noticed a change in the pathway she was on. It seemed to her that some flat stones began to be integrated into the pathway. Wondering what this meant, she continued to trot down the path, looking for anything out of the ordinary, for the Everfree Forest that is. She soon found herself at a rickety old bridge suspended over a ravine. There was a lot of fog, but Scoots was just barely able to see across to some sort of ruins. She took the first tentative step onto the aging wood, and flinched back when it creaked. Realizing that nothing had detached itself yet, she proceeded to attempt to go on the bridge again. This time, it seemed to hold, so she dashed across it as quickly as possible. Reaching the other side, she sighed heavily and sat down on the stones nearby. She calmed her racing heart, and got to work exploring the ruins before her. It was a large castle, with many rooms and hallways to explore. Scootaloo first went to what seemed to be the main dining room. Examining the extremely long table and the chairs around it, Scoots counted spots for at least two hundred ponies or more. Just off the side of the dining room were the remains of the grand kitchen, large enough to cook for the population of Equestria, no doubt! Down the next hall, Scootaloo found an exit to the outer gardens. There she saw the trees that she had been most recently familiar with, those of the Everfree Forest. Looking around the garden, Scootaloo thought she saw something in the tree in the center of the garden. Upon closer inspection from the bottom of said tree, she discovered that it was a tree house of some sort.
“I wonder what a tree house is doing I'm a place like this?” She asked to nopony in particular. She noticed that there were some sorts of vines hanging down from the top of the tree. Grabbing two of these, and tying a third around her waist, Scoots began to pull herself up to the top of the tree, and into the tree house. Once she had reached the appropriate height, she swung back and forth, until she was able to grab a hold of the conveniently placed deck rails. Letting go of the two side vines, she slid underneath the rails, and untied herself. Then she went to work exploring.
“This sure is a strange tree house, in the middle of a strange garden,” She said to herself. “In the middle of some strange ruins, in the middle of the always strange, Everfree Forest.”
There were some things strewn about the inside of the tree house. A bag, some sticks, some string, and a box. One the wall was a poorly woven tapestry, with a familiar shield insignia. Going over to the box, Scootaloo opened the heavy lid, and looked inside. She found a large collection of drawings, and writings. One drawing in particular caught her eye. It was a diagram of a pony on a scooter, or a strange version of on. With mathematical terms and formulas all over it. She noticed that the pony was on the scooter, but in an odd position. Trying to understand exactly what the diagram meant, she didn’t pay attention to anything else around her.
“Mighty fine piece of work, isn’t it?” Said an old raspy voice behind her.
“WHO? WHAT THE…” Scootaloo yelled.
“Calm down,” The old pony said. “Hold yer horses.”
“Whoa, who, who are you?” Scoots asked, slightly frightened. “How did you get here?”
“Slow down, one question at a time.” He answered. “And my name is Rick Rollentine.”
“Okay, mister Rollentine.” Scootaloo said cautiously. “How did you get up here?”
“Looky here.” He said as he turned to the side, spreading his wings, and showing off his cutie mark. His cutie mark was a slightly familiar sight to Scoots; it was that of a diagramed wheel. “I’m a Pegasus.” He said.
“What about your cutie mark?” She asked. “What’s that all about?”
“I’m the one who invented ‘assisted, low-altitude flight’.” Rick responded.
“What exactly is that?” She asked.
“Basically, it’s when you use your wings to push you while you ride a wheeled craft of some sort.” He explained.
“You mean like a scooter?” Scoots asked, puzzled.
“Yes,” He said, hesitating before continuing. “Exactly like a scooter.”
“So, what does that have to do with these drawings?” She asked, pointing her hoof at the box.
“Those were my original ideas.” He explained. “The ones I made in my childhood.”
“Your childhood?” She asked.
“Yes,” He answered. “Me and my friends played here, studied here, and basically lived our lives here.”
“Your friends?” Scoots said.
“Yes. It was me, Appleyard, and Star Swirl.” He said, as he began to stare out the window.
“Cool, what kind of stuff did you guys do?” She asked, obviously intrigued.
“Oh, us, we mostly went out to find our cutie marks.” He said nonchalantly. “We even had a name.”
“And what would that be?” She asked.
Taking one more glance out the window before answering, he turned back to the young filly and said, “The Cutie Mark Cavaliers.”