“So, Scoots, do you have any plans for today?” Rainbow Dash asked casually over breakfast.
“Yup. I’ve got deliveries in the morning, then I’m going to visit Apple Bloom in the hospital, like always. I might get some cloudboarding in after that.” Scootaloo replied.
“Well, make sure you leave some time to practice your magic,” Rainbow Dash instructed. “The sooner you have a spell down, the sooner we can go hunting.”
“I’ll practice extra hard than!” Scootaloo declared. “Are you sure the spells I know aren’t enough?”
“Well you don’t want to shred the target, and you don’t want to bite them either,” Rainbow Dash answered. “I’d suggest either making that slash spell stronger but with less randomness, or the magic bite spell but on something other than your teeth.”
Twilight opened her eyes to see Princess Celestia standing over her. Twilight groaned as she rubbed her eyes.
“Good, you’re awake. The training continues now,” Princess Celestia said.
“What?” Twilight cried. She barely had enough time to throw up a force field before a bolt of lightning was fired at her. She rolled out of bed and ducked down behind it. “I haven’t even had breakfast! Do we really have to do this now?”
“Your opponents won’t wait until you are ready to fight you, they will attack when they choose. They may even strike while you are asleep. You will have to learn to set traps before you sleep to alert you to their approach. I won’t wake you up again. We’ll take a break later.” Princess Celestia explained. She then fired another lightning bolt just over the edge of the bed, narrowly missing Twilight’s mane.
At once the bed glowed magenta, and was flung towards the Princess, forcing it and her into the far wall. “How’s that!” Twilight shouted. At once she realized what she’d done, and her ears drooped.
The bed fell away from the wall, and Princess Celestia calmly pulled herself free from the dent she had made. Aside from some dust, she seemed fine. Not even a feather was bent. “That was good. Let’s keep going!”
“Hey, Apple Bloom,” Scootaloo greeted as she and Sweetie Belle entered the hospital room. “It’s good to see you up for once.”
“Hi, Applejack,” Sweetie Belle added.
“Howdy,” Applejack returned. It was odd seeing her stetson hat perched on her head with no ponytail coming from it.
“Hey, girls!” Apple Bloom said. She sounded a bit hoarse, but cheerful. She was actually sitting up in her bed this time.
“Ah’ll yet yah have yer time,” Applejack said, leaving. “See yah tomorrah, Apple Bloom!”
“Bah, Applejack,” Apple Bloom said. “So, what’s with the look?”
“Apple Bloom, you’re going to hate us, but,” Scootaloo said, turning to the side.
“Yah got yer cutie mark?” Apple Bloom exclaimed.
“Me too,” Sweetie Belle said, showing her flank as well. “I got mine right after we got to Canterlot.”
“I got mine yesterday in Shattered Beak.”
“What’s it for anyway?” Sweetie Belle asked, “She wouldn’t tell me until we got here,” she added, pointing to Scootaloo, but facing Apple Bloom.
“Cloudboarding. It’s like skateboarding, but on clouds. When I was there, I made myself a scooter out of hardcloud and before I knew it, I’d been scooting for two hours and I had a cutie mark. I wouldn’t have noticed if Rriz hadn’t pointed it out.”
“Who?” Sweetie Belle asked.
“He’s a friend I met over there.”
“Now wait a sec, that don’t make no sense,” Apple Bloom said. “Yer always on yer scooter. Whah was this different?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it was being in the clouds. It just felt so right. Like I wanted to just do that for the rest of my life,” Scootaloo explained.
“That’s like how I felt when I was singing!” Sweetie Belle exclaimed.
“But Ah feel that way about a lot ah things and Ah don’t have one.”
“Actually, I had an idea about that,” Scootaloo said.
“You did?” Sweetie Belle asked.
“Yes. See, I realized, both me and Sweetie Belle got ours for things that aren’t pony things. She sings like a sea pony, and I cloudboard; it’s a griffon sport. Maybe your talent is for something that a regular pony wouldn’t do.”
“She got hers fer singin’? That makes sense, Ah guess,” Apple Bloom said. “So what do we do now? We can’t be the Cutie Mark Crusaders if Ah’m the only blank flank!”
“The Crusaders are Crusaders until we all have them,” Sweetie Belle replied.
“Too bad your talent isn’t coming back from the dead. Or maybe it is; have you seen your flank lately?” Scootaloo suggested.
"Ah doubt it, but Ah haven’t seen it yet. Ah wish somepony would tell me what happened. Ah still don't remember nothin’ after that fish bit me. Rainbow Dash didn’t say much cause she was gettin’ eaten too, and Applejack won’t tell me."
"It was super cool," Sweetie Belle said.
"Totally," Scootaloo agreed, though they both had different parts in mind.
"You should have seen Scoots here. She marched right up to them and stared them down. I thought Fluttershy had a mean stare, but Scoots has her beat," Sweetie Belle explained, "she used some magic I’ve never seen before, and totally sliced up the sharks!"
"I didn't kill them," Scootaloo reminded her zealous friend. "Though I meant to," she admitted. She wasn’t going to mention her magic abuse. Ever.
"Anyway, they ran away then she scared off the guys holding us."
"I totally faked them out," Scootaloo said smirking.
"So then Fluttershy was seeing if you were okay," Sweetie Belle continued more quietly now. "Rainbow Dash was still talking, but... you were dead."
“Rainbow Dash told me that much,” Apple Bloom said.
"Then Sweetie Belle here starts singing this song," Scootaloo continued, "her horn lights up and zaps you. Fluttershy was all like 'she's alive'!"
Sweetie Belle shrugged. "I'm still not sure how I did it."
"So Twilight stopped the bleeding, and teleported us all the way here," Scootaloo finished.
"Wow Ah wish Ah had seen it," Apple Bloom joked. "Say, is no hair just in this year? Applejack was bald too."
"No, Twilight turned it into magic to get us here," Sweetie Belle explained. Her normally long hair was barely visible. Scootaloo's mane was just stubble.
"Girls, I have something to tell you," Scootaloo said finally. She looked at Apple Bloom to make sure her earth pony friend wasn't about to fall asleep. "I've wanted to tell you this for a long time, but I was afraid to,"
"Ah secret?" Apple Bloom muttered.
"We're your friends, why would you be afraid?"
"I wasn't afraid of you," Scootaloo replied. "You know how nopony could find my parents after we got here?"
"I remember Rarity searching all over Ponyville for them," Sweetie Belle said, thinking back.
"The reason they couldn't is-" Scootaloo paused, "I don't know where they are either."
"How can you not know where your parents are?" Sweetie Belle asked, confused.
"Because I'm an orphan," Scootaloo said finally. "My parents abandoned me when I was really little. I’ve been alone since before I came to Ponyville."
"What?" Sweetie Belle cried. She grabbed Scootaloo and started crushing her in a big hug. Apple Bloom tried in vain to join in, but she could barely get up from the bed.
“That’s awful!” Apple Bloom said. "Whah didn't ya tell us? Yah could ah lived with us!"
"Because if I told you, somepony would have found out and taken me back to the orphanage," Scootaloo answered. "That is the worst place ever. Imagine the worst place you can, then imagine a place a million times worse."
"So where do you live?" Apple Bloom asked.
"First I lived in the alley behind Vinyl’s house. Then I moved into an old tree by Quills and Sofas. Somepony had put a bunch of rubber balls in there that I had to take out first.. Then I lived in the Clubhouse,” Scootaloo explained. “I really appreciated all the work you did. It was a my favorite place.”
"Lived?" Sweetie Belle said, questioning the past tense.
"Yeah. I got adopted," Scootaloo replied.
"By who?" Sweetie Belle asked.
"The coolest pony in Ponyville of course."
"If your sisters adopted me I'd be living in your house," Scootaloo pointed out.
"No! Rainbow Dash!" Scootaloo said with a frown.
"Wow really?" Apple Bloom asked in amazement.
"Yup. I've been living with her since we got all mixed up."
"Why didn't you tell us sooner?" Sweetie Belle asked.
"Yeah, that's so cool," Apple Bloom added.
"I got so used to keeping it a secret I just couldn't," Scootaloo said quietly. "I'm sorry for not telling you."
"We forgive you Scoots," Apple Bloom said.
"Yeah!" Sweetie Belle sang.
“Just don’t tell anypony. Not even your sisters,” Scootaloo said.
“How come?” Apple Bloom asked.
“Because if somepony finds out, they might get me sent back to the orphanage, and I’ll never see you two again,” Scootaloo said.
“We Pinkie Promise not to tell!” Sweetie Belle said.
“You know,” Scootaloo said suddenly. “You two are the reason I stayed here.”
“Huh?” Apple Bloom asked.
“I was just passing through, trying to find a town I could hide in. I wasn’t going to stay more than a few days but... then I met you two. And I decided to stay here.”
They were quiet for a while, not knowing what to say.
"Did ya ever meet them?" Apple Bloom asked. “Yer parents?”
"Nope. I don't want to either," Scootaloo answered. “I wouldn’t ever want to meet the kind of ponies who would abandon their daughter.”
"But maybe you have a brother or sister," Sweetie Belle said.
"You guys are all I need. Cutie Mark Crusaders, friends forever!" Scootaloo sang.
"Cutie Mark Crusaders, friends forever!" Sweetie Belle chorused. They looked over, but saw Apple Bloom had fallen asleep. Silently, they tiptoed out of the room and headed for home.
“Alright, recruits, we have a new dragon who will be joining us today,” the gunmetal gray and dystopia brown colored dragon at the front of the room announced. “He’ll be sitting in a few classes while his companion is here in Canterlot.”
“Uh...” Spike said. He entered the classroom and looked at all the similar faces. It was a small class, about ten other dragons, just like him. Each was a different color, creating a rainbow sea of scaly faces. He could tell, as young as he was, they were still younger. “Hi, I’m Spike.”
“Do you really have a companion?” one of the dragons asked.
“Yeah,” Spike said simply.
“Ooooo!” most of the class said. They gazed at him in wonder.
“Just pick a seat and we’ll begin,” the teacher, Realism instructed.
Spike walked over to an open seat and sat down.
“I know this is ground we’ve covered before, but we’ll go over it again for Spike’s benefit,” Realism said. “We are all messenger dragons. When you graduate, each of you will be assigned a companion. You will be their companion until death. During that time, you will assist them in any way they need. Your compensation is room and board, and companionship.
“When your first companion passes, your options are thus: you can return here and be assigned a new companion, you can shift yourself to a relative or friend of your last companion, you can find a new companion on your own, or you can find a line of work you enjoy. The only requirement is you serve that first companion until death.
“Spike, would you care to talk about life with a companion? You’re the only one here besides me who has had one.”
Spike looked nervously around. “I don’t really know what to say. I’ve lived with Twilight my whole life. I don’t have anything to compare it to.”
“Just tell us what it’s like,” Realism said. “What you do?”
“Well, I write letters for her, help manage her checklists, clean the library, cook her meals, and go on any errands she needs done.”
“Sounds like a lot of work,” one of the other dragons said.
“It is,” Spike replied.
“And how would you describe Twilight?” Realism asked.
“She’s a really powerful unicorn with some self confidence issues,” Spike said.
“As a companion, I meant.”
“Oh,” Spike said. “She’s.... she’s kind of like a mom and a sister in one pony. It’s kind of hard to explain.”
“I know just how you feel.”
Scootaloo stared down her target, pulling forth her magic. With now practiced ease, she let it out. The apple she was focusing on fell over, rolling off the stump it had been placed on. Scootaloo went over to inspect it.
Reworking the slash spell into a single slice had been surprisingly easy, but it didn’t make it much stronger. The apple had a slice going about half an inch into it. The apple was riddled with similar gouges, but none much deeper than the fresh one. Not nearly good enough. She could always give it more power, but sacrificing your life span for food wasn’t exactly a smart idea. And she had promised not to do it again, a vow she intended on keeping until the next time her or her friends’ lives were threatened and beyond her normal ability to protect.
Clearly she needed a new strategy. As she usually did, she flapped her wings in annoyance. With the motion, a feather fell out. It was one of her larger wing feathers. Had she been able to fly, it would have hindered her ability to do so.
Great, I’m molting again. Just perfect. Then, Scootaloo looked at the loose feather and got an idea. She held it in one hoof and focused her magic into it. There wasn’t much left after her last spell, but it was beginning to return. It was a crazy idea, but maybe her second spell.... Awesome!
“That was very good,” Princess Celestia said. “How about we take a break to recover our magic?” She set about dousing some magic flames about her from Twilight’s last spell.
“Okay,” Twilight agreed. She was already on her last legs.
The two had been practicing magic all day long. Twilight loved it; learning from the Princess again. Sure it was hard, actually using magic against her teacher, but after she saw her first few spells didn’t even bother the Princess, she ignored her reservations about causing harm.
“Do really think I’m any good?” Twilight asked.
“I certainly think you could beat most ponies by outlasting them.”
“That’s not very ideal,” Twilight observed.
“No, but you are getting better,” Celestia said.
“Do you really need to take a break or are you doing this just for my sake?” Twilight asked.
“Mostly for you, but I think this is the lowest my magic has been in a thousand years,” Celestia replied. “I know I often repeat myself, but you are the most powerful unicorn I’ve ever met.”
“I know you’ve met a lot of ponies, but surely there must be a lot stronger. Star Swirl the Bearded, Abra Kazam, Archmage Merlin-”
“You surpass all of them by a wide margin. Twilight, as far as I know, you are the fourth most powerful magical being in Equestria alive today, just behind Discord, my sister, and myself,” Celestia said. The fire was out and she laid down beside Twilight. “You were almost the third, you know.”
“Right, Nightmare Moon banished you to the sun,” Twilight said.
“Close. Right event, wrong pony,” Celestia replied. “I didn’t expect you would be able to save Luna.”
“But you sent me to get the Elements.”
“Yes, I sent you to Ponyville to do three things: find the Elements, find bearers for them, and make some friends. However, I planned on you beating Nightmare Moon, not freeing Luna.”
“Oh,” Twilight said.
“I thought Luna was beyond even the Element’s power to save. I am very glad I was wrong.”
“I didn’t know the Elements of Harmony had the power to kill,” Twilight said.
“They don’t as far as I know, but that wasn’t the plan,” Celestia said. “I once shared the Elements with my sister as you know. After banishing her, only one remained in my control: magic. Right before I sent you to Ponyville, I used my influence to make the Elements do what I wanted when you six got them later, even though they would have left my control at that point.”
“And that was?”
“Drain Nightmare Moon’s power and give it to somepony else.”
“Wouldn’t that just make somepony else evil?” Twilight asked.
“Just her alicornian powers, not her dark powers,” Celestia said. “In the end, they did the opposite.”
“So once you had your sister’s power, what were you going to do?” Twilight asked.
“I wasn’t going to get her power, you were,” Celestia said.
“Me?” Twilight cried.
“Hey, Scoots,” Rainbow Dash greeted, entering their home.
“Hey, Rainbow Dash,” Scootaloo said.
“How did practice go?” Rainbow Dash asked. “Did you work on any new moves?”
“I did what you said and worked on my magic,” Scootaloo replied, pulling out a fresh apple and her loose feather
Scootaloo held the feather tightly, letting her magic flow into it. It took a second for the blue aura to form around the edge. Then she brought the feather over and moved it easily through the apple. The two halves fell through the cloud floor, after falling from her hoof.
“Is that good enough?” Scootaloo asked.
“I’ll say!” Rainbow Dash said. She looked outside briefly. “It’s still light out, wanna-”
Scootaloo rushed over excitedly. “Yes!”
“You were the best suited to fill my sister’s horseshoes,” Celestia said.
Twilight stared at her.
“It didn’t come to pass now did it? I think when Nightmare Moon broke the Elements in their inert state, that removed my influence and allowed your own to take hold.”
“But... why me?”
“You’re my faithful student. Who else but you could handle that kind of responsibility?”
“Now then, as my dad told me,” Rainbow Dash whispered, “the key is either stealth, or speed. You can go with either.”
“Is that why we’re up here?” Scootaloo whispered back. She was referring to the small cloud they were lying on, floating over the Everfree Forest.
“That, and you can’t fly yet,” Rainbow Dash replied. “I can’t hunt with you on my back. Speaking of which, how is that coming?”
“Ugh,” Scootaloo groaned. “I’m molting.”
“Well that sucks.”
“So what now?” Scootaloo asked, gazing down.
“You have to pick a target, then jump ‘em.”
“From up here?”
“We’re pegasi. We can take hard landings better than most. And you can still use your wings to slow you down.”
“Okay, so what do I go after?” Scootaloo asked.
“That’s up to you. You have to find the prey yourself.”
Scootaloo nodded and looked down. She turned her head about, trying to spot any sort of movement that would betray an animal. She saw some, but most were small songbirds. They weren’t a meal. Far off she could see some larger animals. No, I don’t think I’ll try a manticore today.
Finally, she saw something. She summoned a light breeze to take them right over the spot. Far below them, a wild turkey was moving about. It was completely unaware of their presence. Eagerly, Scootaloo stood up and leaned over the side of the cloud. It was easily a hundred feet to the ground.
Scootaloo took a deep breath and jumped. For the first thirty or so feet she buzzed her wings to slow her descent, then she let gravity take over for her strike. She held the magic lined feather out, and landed with a thump beside the turkey. She’d completely missed!
She stared at the poultry, and it stared back. It didn’t seem the slightest bit afraid of her. Why should it? She was a pony, and ponies didn’t hurt animals. She wasn’t going to give it the chance to realize she was a threat. She swung the feather, slicing through its neck. At once it fell over.
Rainbow Dash landed beside Scootaloo who stared at the turkey. Its body twitched a bit as it lay on the ground.
“Not bad. You okay?” Rainbow Dash asked, putting a leg over her.
“Yeah,” Scootaloo said. “What do we do now?”
“You’re really okay?” Rainbow Dash asked, looking at the filly in the face. She remembered vividly how she had felt on her first hunt.
“I’ve seen things die before,” Scootaloo said dully, her eyes looking almost bored.
“Right,” Rainbow Dash said. “Okay. So, now we bring it home to prepare.”
“Princess?” Twilight asked.
“What... what would had happened if your plan had worked?”
“I’m not quite sure,” Celestia admitted. “I imagine you would have been turned into an alicorn, or at the very least you’d have gained her long life.”
“That’s... weird. Just taking her power would do that?”
“Probably. It’s not like I could test it, but that was my theory.” My hope.
“And what if it had failed? What would have happened to me?”
“You already know what happened, Twilight.”
Scootaloo stared at the tan lump before her. Beside it was a pile of feathers she had just finished removing. She had always wondered what this seemingly purposeless room on the first had been for. It had only housed a smooth table and some stained buckets. Now she knew.
As little as the hunting had fazed her, this was a bit much. It felt a little mean to be taking the feathers out of another avian, even if it would never need them again.
“So now that it’s cleaned, what do we do?” Rainbow Dash prompted.
“Um... eat it?” Scootaloo asked. “I’m kind of hungry.” Rainbow Dash pulled her back from the carcass.
“Hold on squirt. Don’t ever, ever, ever eat raw meat,” Rainbow Dash said sternly.
“How come?” Scootaloo asked. “You told me Gilda would catch things in her beak, how is that different?”
“Because she’s a natural predator, and you’re not,” Rainbow Dash replied. “Raw meat can make you very sick. Natural predators are either immune or really resistant to that kind of thing, but we’re not.”
“How sick?” Scootaloo asked nervously.
“I ate some once, not knowing I shouldn’t. I spent the next week living in the bathroom. Does that answer your question?”
“Always cook meat. Got it.”
“But it is ready to cook, so let’s move to the kitchen,” Rainbow Dash said.
She led Scootaloo through the bottom floor of the house, Scootaloo carrying her catch. Rainbow Dash pointed to a spot on the kitchen counter and Scootaloo put the turkey down there.
“Now we could throw it in the pan as is, but it’s boring, so we can add spices and stuff,” Rainbow Dash said. “It depends on what you’re making, but this is the best pan for most large things of meat.” Rainbow Dash rummaged around in the cupboards and pulled out a large metal egg with flat sides. It opened in half and she placed the turkey inside.
“So what do you add?”
“It’s all about taste. Put some on your hoof and give it a taste. If you think it will go with the turkey, add it. If it doesn’t, don’t,” Rainbow Dash instructed. She opened a drawer, revealing dozens of bottles of spices. “The only way to do it wrong, is if you don’t like it.”
Scootaloo took out a couple of bottles. She opened one and sprinkled a bit on her hoof and licked it up. At once her face scrunched up, then she began panting. “Water!” she whined, running over to the sink.
“They can be a bit strong,” Rainbow Dash said with a smile.
“No kidding,” Scootaloo said, returning.
She was more careful now, only tasting a bit here and there. She added only a couple spices in the end. When she was satisfied, she placed the lid on the pot.
“Okay, now what?”
“First we add some water,” Rainbow Dash said. She took the lid back off and put some water in the bottom.
“This keeps it moist. After all we’re going to be cooking it in a hot, dry oven,” Rainbow Dash said. She carefully opened the oven and placed it inside. “Now we play the waiting game.
“Can we play a board game instead?” Scootaloo asked.
“So why make me an alicorn?”
“Well I need somepony to keep me company,” Celestia said with a smile. “As an alicorn, you’d be able fulfill Luna’s duties, and you’d live as long as I would, or close enough. Even as a unicorn, you’d at least share her long life.”
“But I’d still be a child to you,” Twilight said.
“I don’t think so,” Celestia said. “We’re actually quite close in relative ages.”
“Huh?” Twilight exclaimed.
“Alicorns live thousands of years, but I’m still quite young for a member of my tribe. We’re about at the same point in our lives, though mine is just longer.”
“So why me?”
“You’re my faithful student,” Celestia said. “Who else but you?”
Princess Celestia gazed off. “I told you, I thought Luna was beyond any form of help. I... I didn’t want to have my sister suffering like that. Without her long life and alicornian powers, she would be little more than an angry winged unicorn. She wouldn’t be a serious threat anymore.”
“And you wanted me to take her place?”
“I needed somepony to take her place, bringing forth the night. I wanted somepony to be my companion for however many centuries I have left. It’s rather... draining to make friends all the time knowing they’ll be gone so quickly.”
“I wish you had told me before.”
“If I had, do you think things would have gone the same way?”
“Probably not,” Twilight said, smiling awkwardly.
“I think things worked out nicely. Except for you, that is.”
“I’m happy just being a regular old unicorn,” Twilight said.
Princess Celestia grabbed Twilight’s head with one hoof and gently turned it towards herself. “Twilight, you are anything but an ordinary unicorn. Never forget that.”
“So?” Rainbow Dash asked.
The turkey was now done and sitting on the table. Since Scootaloo had caught it, she got the first bite. Scootaloo bit down and chewed with her magic teeth. At once, she coughed and grabbed for a glass of water.
“Too much... what was that red stuff?”
Rainbow Dash took a little bite. “A bit strong, but not bad for your first try.”
Scootaloo made a small nibble. “I guess I didn’t mess up that much.”
“Okay, so now you know how to hunt and cook,” Rainbow Dash said. “Now I can kick you out, and you can survive on your own.”
Scootaloo looked at her in horror, but Rainbow Dash burst out laughing.
“You should see the look on your face!” she said between bouts of giggles. Scootaloo just frowned. When she had finally stopped laughing, Rainbow Dash walked over and put her leg around Scootaloo. “You’re not going anywhere. I was just joking.”
“Ha ha, mom,” Scootaloo said, trying to annoy her ‘mom’.
Rainbow Dash’s smile wavered a bit. “Just don’t call me dad. That would be weird.”
“I’m a flightless pegasus, with magic, and two discolored flanks, whose entire body changed color, who just killed and ate a turkey. Weird is my life.”
“Naw, you’re just my Scoots,” Rainbow Dash said.
Scootaloo smiled. “Can we go hunting again soon?” she asked.
“Sure. Not all the time, but we can definitely go again,” Rainbow Dash replied.
“I thought you gave up hunting,” Scootaloo said snidely.
“I did, but now I have a reason to go.”
“Aren’t you afraid we might get caught?”
“It’s not illegal,” Rainbow Dash said. “And if they find out, they find out. I’m not going to tell them, nor am I going to make it obvious, but I’m not worried. Not anymore.”
“Me neither!” Scootaloo declared.
Image by Kishmond, taken from deviantart and resized by me.
If you like this story, you should check out some of my other works:
My tumblr, an alternate universe mixing MLP and Cyborg 009.
Forever a Changeling, my new story starring Rainbow Dash as a changeling.
Samurai Applejack, a drastically different kind of story. It’s rated mature for violence and some suggestive lines.
Night of the Werepony, what I consider to be my worst story, but it’s my most popular. It’s just one chapter long.