Only the dead have seen the end of war - George Santayana
"THEY'VE BROKEN PAST THE TRENCH! PULL BACK!" a voice shouted as the beams of magic erupted from the skies, tearing up the earth. Sounds of yelling, screaming, and explosions were blanked out as Dr. Whooves was knocked onto his back, a nearby explosion sending him from his feet and into the mix of mud and blood. There was a sharp pain in his side, and it somehow became very hard to breathe. The skies were a dull grey, and it looked as though the clouds were crying.
"Unicorns! Advance!" The voice of Shining Armor was loud and clear, and for an instant that was all Dr. Whooves could hear, "We're not done here, ponies! We can go on! This isn't over!" Dr. Whooves felt inspiration fill his heart, the stallion getting himself to his hooves. He wore a green helmet like most of the other stallions, but his had a large red cross painted onto it. In his saddlebags he held all the medical supplies he could, and he needed to keep those clean no matter what.
"MEDIC!" A voice called from the left, "I NEED A MEDIC OVER HERE!" Dr. Whooves immediately galloped to the sound of the voice, the explosions starting to block off his hearing. To his left and right, stallions were gathering themselves for an assault. The unicorns wore special helmets so that their horns were exposed, showing off their main weapons. The Pegasi were in the air, fighting all the airborne changelings. At first, it seemed that all of the changelings had wings, but they were the only ones that had attacked the palace with their queen. There were bigger, stronger changelings on the ground, and the earth ponies were their main enemies.
"UNICORNS! FIRE!" Shining armor cried out, and power beams shot from the horns of the powerful ponies. There was a loud explosion off in the distance where they fired. Dr. Whooves couldn't see over the trenches, but he knew that the unicorns had hit their mark.
"MEDIC!" The voice cried out again, "I NEED A MEDIC HERE!" Dr. Whooves finally found his patient, and his hope had dropped. The pony that he needed to work on was being held by his comrade, and there was a huge gash on his chest. Doctor Hooves recognized him immediately as a resident of Ponyville, along with his friend who was cradling him in his fore-hooves. He was an earth pony, while his friend was a pegasus. Biting his lip, Dr. Whooves quickly opened up his saddle back. He would not give up here. He would NOT.
"Give it pressure! We need to stop the bleeding!" The medic yelled, pulling out some healing powder and a large white bandage. The unicorn was applying pressure with his hooves, his eyes tearing up as the patient began to cough, blood seeping from his lips.
"Stay with me, colt!" Dr. Whooves cried out, emptying the powder onto the wound as he took out the bandage. There was a nearby explosion, and screams engulfed the large trench. Dr. Whooves covered his patient with his body, rocks flying into his back. Ignoring the pain, the doctor quickly wrapped the cloth around the patient as he looked into his eyes.
"Come on, sonny...." Whooves said, "You'll be okay...don't give up...don't give up! No! Stay with me!" The earth pony glanced up at him, his eyes red and teary. He was trying to speak, his breathing erratic and broken up.
"Doctor..." The pony spoke, his hoof trembling as he reached into his saddlebag. He pulled out something and slammed it into the doctor's chest, his voice shaking and breaking up.
"No!" Whooves yelled out, his eyes wide as he shouted at the stallion, "You do it! LIVE! Don't give up! You CAN'T!"
The stallion was already gone.
As Whooves stared at the colt, cries and explosions were hitting into the trenches. The unicorn was hugging his dead friend, screaming as tears rolled down his cheeks. Dr. Whooves almost couldn't hear the cries for help behind him.
"Medic! I NEED A MEDIC OVER HERE!"
"WHERE THE HELL'S THE MEDIC?!"
"PLEASE! SOMEBODY HELP HIM! MEDIC!"
Dr. Whooves turned around, gritting his teeth as he ran to the sources of the voices. Another stallion would return home in a box.
It had been a few weeks since the doctor found himself back in Ponyville in the comforts of his own home. His bed was just as soft as he remembered it, the mares just as beautiful and the small town just as peaceful. The sun was still breathtaking, and the early morning birds were making wonderful music. The doctor rose from his bed, his eyes looking out of the window and onto the streets. The ponies were opening up their shops, smiles and laughter being heard from his thin walls. Everything was pleasant here, and everything was exactly how he left it.
He got up from his bed, making his way over to the bathroom. The shower was just as warm and soothing as it had been two years ago. When he was done, he made his way to the kitchen. His breakfast was just as energizing as it had always been for him two years ago. And when he stepped outside, the sunlight was just as awesome as he had remembered it. Nothing had changed here at all.
"Morning Dr. Whooves!" A small unicorn filly cried out, smiling up at the stallion, "Have you seen Applejack or Scootaloo? They were supposed to meet me here!"
"Sorry, Sweetie Belle." Dr. Whooves smiled, "I haven't yet." He walked away, and the small filly watched him. She noticed that he wasn't as talkative, and his smiles just weren't as warm as they had been before. She simply shrugged it off, thinking that he just needed to get used to Ponyville again. But it was much more then that.
Doctor Whooves was wearing his saddlebag, and in it he had the item that a soldier had asked him to give to his wife. It was the same soldier he tried to save in the trenches, and the stallion's broken form haunted Dr. Whooves every time he closed his eyes. He needed to do this...he needed to give that stallion his last wish. He couldn't save the life of that young soldier...but maybe he could still help that stallion in a different way.
As he was slowly trotting down the street, a certain building caught his eye. Sugarcube Corner. That was one of the most visited buildings in Ponyville, and business was booming as usual. Ponies were flooding in and out, and each of them had a smile on their face. He had spent many hours in there as well, speaking to his good friend Mr. Cake. For running a sweet shop, he had been one skinny pony. He was always happy taking care of his kids, being with his wife, and feeding Ponyville delicious cupcakes.
But he couldn't do any of that anymore.
Dr. Whooves caught a glance of Mrs. Cake in the window. She was smiling, bringing out wonderful sweets to the pony who had ordered it. She was at the counter, and to her left was the always energetic Pinkie Pie. Ever since Mr. Cake left, he had heard that Pinkie had stepped it up to help out. She was a good mare, and he was glad that Mrs. Cake had such a great helper.
And he was happy that Pinkie was there for Mrs. Cake when she had gotten the news.
He walked past the building, not wanting to think about it. He was afraid to show his face there. Too many memories of his friend, and he couldn't bear to see Mrs. Cake cry again. Her foals would never know their father.
As he was heading down the streets, a big red stallion caught his eye. Big Macintosh was helping out his sister, picking up crates of apples and placing them into the cart. Their eyes met, and they gave each other a nod. They had an understanding of one another, and even though they served in different units they knew of each other. Big Mac had a scar over his right eye that had been slashed. Dr. Whooves thought it was rather cool, but he was afraid to ask the red stallion how he had gotten it. They almost never talked about their war stories anyway.
When Big Mac looked away to speak to his sister, the former medic went on his way.
Dr. Whooves snapped his head in the direction of the sound, his heartbeat quickening. His breaths came short, his muscles tense.
He immediately galloped away, his feet slamming into the ground as he passed by all the other ponies. The buildings were suddenly replaced with a high trench wall, the sound of talking was swept away by explosions. He felt the weight of a helmet on his head once again, and he could feel the blood of his allies on his hooves. He heard screaming, and he turned a corner.
"WHERE?! WHERE'S THE SOLDIER?!" He yelled out. Suddenly, his helmet was gone, and buildings of Ponyville was back. In the middle of the street were three young colts. and one of them was on his back and blinking. They were all wearing what looked to be bad war costumes with turtle shells as helmets.
"Dr. Whooves! You wanna play with us?" One of them asked, "Is that why you came running?"
"Um...sorry little ponies." Dr. Whooves breathed a sigh of relief, "I'll just be on my way." He turned away, back onto his main objective.
"Why are you calling out for a medic?"
"Because I got hit!"
"Lame! Medics aren't cool! All they do is save people!"
"Yeah! Medics probably have the easiest job in wars! They don't even fight!"
Whooves froze and turned around to face the three young colts.
Wait, no. They're just colts. No need to get upset. They don't know anything. Just leave...That's it.
"Yeah! Soldiers are cool! Medics probably aren't even soldiers!"
"Yeah. And I bet that they don't even save ponies half of the time-
"SHUT UP." The three colts turned their head towards Whooves. The doctor had never been seen like this. He had never been angry before. And unbeknown to him, the ponies in the streets stopped what they were doing and watched him.
"Um..." One of the colts started to say, "Dr.-
"You don't know anything..." Whooves growled, "Medics don't fight?....MEDICS DON'T FIGHT?!" He pressed in, "WE FIGHT TO KEEP SOLDIERS ALIVE! CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE WHAT IT'S LIKE TO SEE THE LIFE OF SOMEONE YOU'RE TRYING TO SAVE PASS RIGHT BEFORE YOUR EYES WHILE THEY'RE BEGGING TO LIVE?! CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE WHAT IT'S LIKE TO FEEL SO HELPLESS WHEN YOU KNOW YOU CAN'T SAVE A YOUNG STALLION?! CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE WHAT IT'S LIKE TO SEE YOUR FRIENDS BEING CUT DOWN ALL AROUND YOU?!" The three colts backed down, their eyes wide.
"We're...We're sorry..." Dr. Whooves was smacked back into reality, and he saw the tears well up in their eyes.
"Oh...I'm.." The doctor glanced around, seeing the eyes of everypony on him. They weren't angry...they were sympathetic, sadness spreading amongst them all. This was exactly what Dr. Whooves had been afraid of. He didn't want to bring back the horrors of war...each of the ponies had their experience of it in one way or another even if they hadn't been involved themselves. Many of them had lost friends, family, loved ones...And Whooves sometimes felt that it was his fault. He couldn't save them. Maybe if he tried harder. Maybe if he was smarter, or stronger. Could he have made a difference?
The colts began to start sobbing, and Whooves sighed.
Way to go, doc. Way to go.
Before I begin, I would like to address a few readers who have decided to voice their opinion against my story via comments and messages.
Yes, war in this story is going to be an important factor. But for the most part, its going to be less about war and more about the losses and changes that the characters are going to go through. I'm sorry some of you feel disgusted and dislike what I have written.
I know that war is something that would never even be in the My Little Pony franchise. But I feel as though I have a message to express, and will continue to do so in this little fimfic. I only hope that some find it enjoyable, and will always be waiting for my next update.
"Dr. Whooves?..." The stallion could hardly hear the familiar voice, his mind on other things as the colts continued to cry in front of him. He knew he had to apologize, and he knew that they didn't deserve to be yelled at in the way that he did. They were too young, too naive to understand what he had been through...and was currently going through. It was him that was having the problem.
He turned to face the owner of the voice, expecting to see an angry mother of some sort. But what he found instead was Twilight Sparkle, the Ponyville Librarian and magical genius. And Twilight's expression was far from anger. Her eyes were big, and he could see them glisten with sympathy. She knew. She knew what he had been through.
He found a new kind of determination and turned to the colts, his ears flattening as he walked up to them, "I'm so sorry, dear boys. It was wrong of me to act like that. I promise you that it will never happen again." One of the colts sniffled, looking up at him.
"Then...then will you play with us later?"
The stallion smiled, "Of course, little one. Now run off. Soldiers don't cry, you know." He winked. The colts all grinned and trotted away, returning to their previous happy state. But he felt a tense feeling in his heart as they ran away. He had seen many soldiers cry.
"I'm sorry for that little situation..." Dr. Whooves said as Twilight walked up beside him, "I'm...I'm not the same way that I used to be." The other ponies around him nodded silently and each of them went about their day like usual.
"It's alright. There aren't many stallions who used to be what they were two years ago." Twilight said, giving him a small sad smile. Whooves nodded back, watching the colts play from a far distance away.
"It's because of all of you that they can go about their day without worry and fear, you know." Twilight smiled, "Each of you who fought made a difference. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise." Memories of soldiers and friends who he couldn't save flashed through the former medic's mind, making the stallion cringe and shake his head.
Twilight noticed his reaction and nudged him a little, giving him another one of her beautiful smiles, "Come on, doctor. I'll treat you to some tea at my house. Spike also makes awesome cookies." Dr. Whooves looked up at her, studying the young mare.
Two years ago, Twilight Sparkle had seemed like a bit of a misfit coming from Canterlot and all. But after making friends, she finally managed to settle down peacefully with her and her dragon assistant. She was a wonderful pony, and he had never seen a unicorn use magic quite like her. She was very intelligent, and he found himself in her library many times a week. For that time, he could say that he had been interested in her, and he knew that she was interested in him as well.
But could he feel love, now?...After seeing all the wives, the children that he had let down? Sure, he had saved many stallions. But he couldn't save enough.
The stallion cleared his throat as he looked at the young mare. There was no way he could say yes. He didn't feel like he deserved it. But for a moment as he stared into her eyes...the load on his back seemed to lessen.
"That sounds lovely, Twilight."
Dr. Whooves was walking around patiently in the library, looking up at the towering bookshelves before him. Honestly, he had read more than half of the literature here. Knowledge entertained him, and he found that sometimes the simplest things that you can learn can really help you later down the road. He heard Twilight hum quickly to herself, the sound of the teapot whistling in the kitchen.
While Twilight was busy pouring the hot tea into the cups, she couldn't help but think about Dr. Whooves. When she had first arrived in Ponyville, he was one of the first Stallions to come into the library. The library was still an unorganized mess at the time, but he had helped her get every volume in order. She appreciated it very much, and their relationship had started from there.
When she brought the tea out, her eyes found the form of the stallion. It didn't seem like anything changed, but there was a definite difference from the Dr. Whooves she knew from two years ago. Before, he walked with a sort of intelligent confidence, his smiles bright and his head high. His voice was rich, and he had a knack for telling great stories that he had experienced or read. He was friends with practically all of Ponyville, and he always kept an ear open for any problems they wanted to discuss.
Looking at him now, she could feel the guilt that was filling his heart. He walked as if he was wearing saddlebags that weighed twice as much as he did, and she noticed that he would often stare off into space, a look of regret and sadness filling his eyes.
She set the tea onto the table and Dr. Whooves took a seat, taking a small sip from the cup. He gave Twilight a smile of satisfaction, and the mare had to hold back a light blush.
"So, miss Sparkle...how have things been these past two years?"
"It's been quiet, for the most part." The purple mare sipped her tea, "Everyone of us were waiting on letters, on news of our stallions. Whenever one came in, all of us were there." She had her own questions to ask the doctor, but was a bit afraid to ask.
"I see..." Whooves said, taking another sip of his cup. There was an awkward moment of silence, and neither pony knew what to say. Twilight wished to speak with Whooves about personal matters while the doctor thought of any interesting topics to converse about.
Twilight finally broke the silence, looking up at the doctor, "Dr. Whooves...this might be a bit personal...but I would like to hear of your experiences of the battlefield." The stallion cringed. He knew he would have to answer a question like this sooner or later...and he wished to not speak of the horrors he had seen. But for Twilight...
The doctor set out his cup and cleared his throat, "I'm sorry...But I don't wish to speak of such things..." His gaze met the the floor, "I don't want to relive those moments. Every single one of them...I wish I could forget."
"Doctor...." Twilight said, her eyes glistening as she looked up at him, "But it's painful to see you like this! You used to be full of life! You were always there when somebody needed you! You were the proudest pony I have ever met! But now-
"But now WHAT?!" Dr. Whooves cried, standing up and knocking over the stool, "I'm a guilt ridden, depressed pony who lets the past swallow him whole?! Are you telling me to forget everything, to forgive myself?! To forgive the fact the fact that I let all those soldiers die?! What are you asking of me?!" Twilight's eyes began to tear up, and the doctor managed to calm himself down.
"I...I see them Twilight. Everyday. Every time I close my eyes, they are right there in front of me. The ones I couldn't save. I know there was nothing I could...And that sometimes all I could do was pat their head and watch them go..." Tears began welling up in his eyes and he bit his lip, shaking his head, "I...have never felt so helpless...They all had families...loved ones...and I feel as though I let them down...."
He felt a warmth overtake him as Twilight through herself on him, pulling him into an embrace as tears rolled down her cheeks, "I'm so sorry, doctor..." She choked, "But you didn't let them down...you tried your hardest...you never left their side, did you?...You stayed with them. You didn't let them go alone...You were always there for them...And you will always remember them...." The doctor buried his face in her shoulder, their tears flowing like one great river.
And it was there they sat, crying in each others arms as time seemed to pass ever so slowly. Dr. Whooves had never felt so soothed in his life...the images of the soldiers he had seen die before him were still there, but he would always hold them in his heart. Twilight was right...he would NEVER forget them.
He finally pulled away, giving her a said smile, looking into her red puffy eyes, "Twilight....thank you. I fee like I can go on again..." He laughed lightly, giving her one last hug, "You poor thing...you have been through tough times as well, haven't you?" She said nothing, but he knew her too well to know that he was right. He nuzzled her gently before pulling away.
"Twilight, there is something I have to do today...But I hope that I can see you again really soon. Is that okay?" Twilight smiled, wiping her eyes with her hoof.
"Yes..." She sniffed, "I'll be waiting, doctor." Whooves nodded before picking up his saddle bag, looking back at Twilight one more time before walking out of the door.
The sun was starting to fall into the horizon, Celestia's brilliant magic ending for the day. As the sun grew orange and beautiful, Whooves couldn't help but think about the soldiers who would never see such a sight again. But as long as he carried them into his heart, they would never disappear.
He walked back into the town, kicking up dust lightly as ponies passed by him. Shops were beginning to close, and he once more found himself looking into the window of Sugarcube corner. Mrs. Cake was staring into a photo on the counter, her eyes glimmering with sadness. He didn't have to guess who she was looking at. He made a note to go and visit her soon, to share stories of her brave husband, and to let his children know about how great of a father he really was.
He saw Big Mac one more time, pulling a heavy cart through the streets. He couldn't quite read the large stallions expressions, and wondered what was going through the red pony's mind. The war? The farm? Dr. Whooves would never really know.
It had taken a few more minutes, but he arrived at his destination. He felt his heart thumping in his chest, but he ignored it as he knocked on the door with his hoof. A few seconds later, the door opened and he saw a young mare with blue and pink hair looking back at him.
"Bon Bon..." Dr. Whoove said, making a sad smile, "I have something for you...from your husband..." The mare blinked, opening her mouth to say something at first and just shook her head.
"I...I see...." She glanced into her living room and back at him, "...Please come inside..." Dr. Whooves nodded, making sure to close the door behind him. He watched her take a seat at the couch, her eyes a bit teary. He seated himself at a chair in front of her, taking a small box out of his saddlebag and placing it onto the table.
"...I'm guessing you want to tell me how he died..." Her eyes looked up at him, and Dr. Whooves gave her a small smile.
"No...I wanted to ask you how he lived."
Applejack's room was small, yet her room seemed spacious enough to hold each of her friends. She wasn't that messy of a pony, and most of her things were set up in shelves or tucked into a closet or dresser. She only really went into her room to sleep, so it was fitting that there wasn't much to see in there. Her bed was big and comfy, her quilt sewn of comfortable cloths and warm old blankets. She kept a window cracked open at night, and she fell asleep to the sounds of crickets and owls. She slept deeply, and it was rare for her to wake up.
But that had changed.
Her eyes slowly cracked open, familiar muffled sounds cutting through her thin wooden walls. There was a slight chill in the air, and anypony else would definitely go back to sleep, regardless of the noise. The noises only grew louder and more frequent, and the orange mare started to get out of bed, flinging the blanket off of her. Her stetson was left on the hat rack next to her door, and she didn't grab as she walked out. Her door creaked gently, and she followed the noises as they echoed down the hallway.
The Apple Family kept only a single lamp burning on the wall to help those who needed to find the bathroom in the middle of the night. It was dim, but Applejack could still make out the shape of the large door that the sounds were coming from.
Standing before it, she remembered how big it looked when she was just a filly. Her big brother was the kindest pony that she knew, and on scary stormy nights he would let her in with him. He had done that ever since their parents had passed away, and although he spoke few words he meant much. He had helped her through her times of need, and she had always wanted to return a favor.
But how could she now?
She cracked open the door lightly, the moonlight showing the form of Big Macintosh on his bed. The red stallion was grunting and panting, his body covered in sweat as he thrashed around his bed. His hooves were shaky, his breathe shallow. It was as though he was trapped back in the war, his eyelids shaking as his eyes moved rapidly.
Big Mac had been like this ever since he came back. At first, Applejack convinced herself that he was just having simple nightmares. But as they continued, her concern grew more and more. Heavy bags were underneath his eyes in the daytime, and she knew that he rarely got sleep. She would hate to wake him now but...
It was just painful to see.
She heard a light creaking behind her, and the orange mare looked back to see her little sister, Applebloom, emerge from her room rubbing her eyes. In her mouth she held her favorite stuffed animal, and her tired eyes had to sweep up from the floor to Applejack's sad eyes. She looked at Big Mac's door before shuffling towards her sister.
"AJ..." Applebloom yawned, dropping her stuffy, "...Why does Big Mac do this everynight? Is he scared or somethin'?" Applejack's lips quivered, looking back at her brother.
"Maybe he has a sort of disease...I'm worried...." Applebloom said quietly, looking into the room.
"I'm worried too..." Applejack said, her voice shaky, "Just try and go back to sleep. He'll be fine."
Would he be fine?
Applebloom nodded before picking up her stuffed animal, closing the door behind her silently. Applejack shut Big Mac's door, her back to a wall as she sat down.
Big Mac had always been strong. He had always been decisive, smart, clever, and brave. Back when Applejack had been a young filly he had done all of the farm work. He had to do more when their parents passed away. Granny Smith was too old, and the sisters were way too young. He had taken the extra jobs without complaint. Every night he plopped down into his bed exhausted, and each morning he woke up tired.
He had worked through it all, though. And it really helped to have Applejack being able to do some work around the farm. The load on him had lessened, and she was proud to help her brother.
And when he had gone off to war to fight the changelings, he had given her his usual smile and nod before taking off. She loved her brother, and knew in her heart that he would come back to them someday. And two years later, when the day finally arrived, she was overjoyed. Pinkie threw a massive party for the entire town, and Big Mac didn't seem different besides that scar over his eye.
But he did change.
Applejack was too deep in her thoughts to notice that the noises stopped, and jumped in surprise as Big Mac's door swung open, nearly hitting her. The massive stallion walked out, his yoke off of his neck. He hadn't noticed her, and the orange mare watched her brother carefully as he walked slowly downstairs, the floorboards creaking under his weight. She knew what he was going to do.
She snuck after him, peering her head down from the staircase to watch him. The big red stallion opened up the fridge, pulling out a large bottle of cider that was mixed with alcohol. He plopped down onto the table and popped it open, gulping it down within seconds.
Big Mac never used to drink so much, and he only did at parties and rare events. But ever since he had gotten home, he had a few bottles every night. Maybe even half a dozen.
Applejack knew he did it to forget. Big Mac wouldn't speak of his days in the war, and she knew that she shouldn't ask him. It was just something that he wanted to put behind him, and maybe in time it would get better.
"...And then before he even could take another breathe, I swooped passed him, spiraling over the finish line! Applejack, you should have seen it! In one fell swoop, I came back and won the race! Cool, aren't I?"
"Sure, Rainbow Dash." Applejack rolled her eyes with a smile, the two friends walking down the streets of Ponyville, "But wasn't that the time when you couldn't stop flyin' and smacked right into Fluttershy?"
"Um..." Rainbow scratched her head, "I um...don't know what you're talking about!"
"About what?" The yellow mare asked, flying up with a light smile on her face. Applejack blinked, seeing the remnants of a light bruise on Fluttershy. She gave Dash a big smile, and the blue pegasus looked away with embarrassment.
"So..." Fluttershy asked, plopping down into a walk beside her two friends, "Hey, um...Applejack..."
"Yes?" The orange mare asked, her eyes being caught by a hat shop they were passing. Her attention was specifically grabbed by a black cowpony with a silver lining.
"I...uh...was just wondering...well...if you don't mind me asking...um...."
"You wanted to ask about Big Mac?" Rainbow Dash asked, looking at the other pegasus suspiciously. The yellow mare blushed a little bit before shaking her head. Applejack's stare was torn away from the store, her heart sinking in her chest.
"Well um no!...But...yes...if you don't mind, I mean..."
"Well...." Applejack bit her lip, growing a bit silent.
"Ha! Fluttershy, its obvious to everypony that you have a huge crush on the big stallion!" Rainbow Dash laughed, flying over and punching her friend lightly in the shoulder, "And now that he's back, are you going to keep staring at him from a distance?"
"Fluttershy..." Applejack swallowed, her eyes glistening with growing moisture, "Big Mac...ever since he got back...well...he hasn't been himself..." The two pegasi looked at their orange friend, their eyes filled with concern.
"But he looks just fine when I see him...and he even has that wicked cool scar!" Rainbow exclaims, pointing her hoof to her eye, "I mean...he's just as hardworking as he was then!"
"I...I know but..." Applejack started, looking at Fluttershy. The yellow Pegasus was looking straight ahead, her eyes wrapped in a mess of emotions. Applejack followed her gaze, finding Big Macintosh. The red stallion was running the apple stand, handing a nice bushel of apples to a grey pegasus with crooked eyes.
"Applejack..." Fluttershy started, "Do you mind if I stay the night over tonight?" The orange mare blinked, looking up at her friend. What did Fluttershy have in mind? It was something to do with Big Mac, that was obvious. But...but maybe her friends could help. Big Mac was tearing himself up, and she wanted to do something about it.
"...Sure, sugarcube." Applejack smiled, "I don't have much work tomorrow mornin' and it's been a while since my friends have been over."
"What?! You can't leave me out!" Rainbow Dash cried out, "You can just have a sleepover and night invite ME!" Applejack blinked, before laughing, "Okay, fine! You can come too!"
"And me! Pick me! Me me me me me me me!" Pinkie Pie cried out, emerging from a nearby alley and scaring the life out of the three mares.
"Um...well...I guess I can't say no..." Applejack blinked, scooting back a little.
"Yay! Now we need to invite Rarity and Twilight!"
"Wait, what?! Well...I guess we should-
"Okie Dokie Lokie! See you at Sweet Apple Acres in two hours! PINKIE PIE AWAY!" The pink mare dashed away, dodging through the crowd of ponies, weaving through as though they were water. Applejack blinked, looking up at Fluttershy. Her yellow friend looked sad, but maybe also a bit relieved?
"Well...I guess we're going to have a little party going on?" Rainbow Dash asked, shrugging, "Well, that sounds fine with me!" Applejack was happy her friends were going to be over, but was it the right thing to do? Each of them would know of Big Mac's sleepless nights, his horrifying nightmares. But...she was hoping that in someway they could help.
Each of them sat in Applejack's room, almost being crammed in there. Pinkie was hopping up and down on her bed, Rarity was checking how she looked in a mirror, Rainbow was trying to fly around in whatever space she could, Twilight was looking over Applejack's book shelf, and Fluttershy was on the floor nervously rubbing her hooves together.
"I've never read western books before!" The purple unicorn exclaimed, flipping through some pages, "Wow!"
"Darling, your mirror is cracked....*GASP!* Did my fat ugly face break it?! Wait...no way! I'm too fabulous and beautiful for that! Oh, what's wrong with you today Rarity?!" The white mare cried, staring to refer to herself in third person.
"This...bed...is....so....BOUNCY! SO BOUNCY I COULD DIE!"
"How can you live in this room, Applejack?! There's like no place to stretch your wings! Wait...oh yeah, you're an earth pony! Sucks to be you!"
"Um...Applejack....well...as long as you don't mind...can I?....Well..." Applejack was worried that none of them would shut up, her attention being caught by Fluttershy.
"Yes, sugarcube? You don't have to be nervous to ask!" Fluttershy was rubbing her hooves together still, her gaze pulling itself from the floor.
"I was just wondering....could I...perhaps...see Big Mac's room?" Everybody stopped what they were doing, their attention on Fluttershy and Applejack.
The orange mare blinked, not expecting that question, "Well...um..."
"It's just so that I can see if I can help him....but that's only if you say yes..." Fluttershy squeaked in a small voice.
"Help him? What's wrong with Big Mac?" Twilight asked. Applejack took a deep breathe, her friends gathering around in a circle.
She began to explain everything. His thrashing in his sleep, the alcohol...Everything. As she spoke, her eyes were beginning to glisten and Pinkie Pie rushed up to give her a hug.
"Big Mac too...." Twilight bit her lip, "Ever since the soldiers have come back, none of them have been the same...And knowing Big Mac, he won't talk about anything about the war. I wish we could know of his experiences...so we could share his pain..."
"That's why I want to see his room..." Fluttershy said quietly, "Maybe we can find something out about him...And maybe we could help him..."
"It's worth a shot." Rarity said, standing up, "Besides, I've actually never been to his room. Wonder how big his bed is..." The six mares stood up, leaving Applejack's room and heading down into the hallway.
Applejack hesitantly opened Big Mac's door, and seeing it in the daytime was much different then at night. The sunlight came in strong through his window, his bed made all nice and neat. His room was cluttered, but it wasn't so bad as it could have been. He had a single dresser, and old pictures were set up on it.
The mess on his floor was a mass of boxes, old saddlebags, and random things. What he needed the boxes for wasn't clear, but she could tell that it was something strange.
"Odd..." Twilight said, pacing around the room, "Boxes? Why would he need these? It's like he was packing away his things." Using her magic, she picked up one of the old saddlebags. They each recognized it as military issue.
And it had a bloody tear in it.
Twilight dropped it in shock, and stepped back into something. Glancing at it, it was a strange black box. The box was pure black, and it had the insignia of a shining golden sun on the top. It was lined with gold, and even had a golden latch.
"What is this?" Rarity asked, her magic picking it up so she could take a look at it, "It...it looks glorious! Such a wonderful design! This gives me some new ideas!" She set it down at a nearby desk, and each of the mares took a look at it. Twilight stared at it carefully before her eyes widened, her mouth letting out a gasp of surprise.
"...No way..." She took a step back, "This is...."
"What? What?!" Rainbow Dash asked, fluttering next to Twilight, "What is it?! Should we open it up?!" Pinkie Pie was a step ahead, her hoof pulling up the latch. The small box swung open.
The box had a wonderful cloth that glimmered gold in the sunlight, and placed in the middle of it was a medal. It was in the shape of a spectacular star, the middle being the image of a sun. A blue ribbon was attached to it, a black moon being in its center.
"Whoa..." Rainbow Dash blinked, her breathe actually being taken away, "This is...whoa...."
"What is this for? Did everybody get it?" Pinkie asked, looking at it curiously.
"It's...beautiful..." Fluttershy stared at it, "But...it seems too special...."
"It is special." Twilight said, catching the attention of the other mares, "This...This is Celestia's star!" She had a huge expression of shock still on her face, "Do any of you know what this means?"!
"Um...not in particular..."Applejack said, her eyes now on Twilight, "What does it mean?"
"This..." Twilight walked up to it, "This is the greatest award that Celestia can bestow upon a soldier. It is given to one who is brave, risking their lives above and beyond the call of duty in combat against Equestria's enemies and for Celestia and their comrades."
"Wait...what are you saying?!" Rarity cried.
"This...This award has only been given twice..." Twilight looked up at Applejack, causing the orange mare's jaw to drop.
"So...so you're saying that my brother..."
"Yes. Big Macintosh is a war hero."