Sparky learned that all of her friends had sustained fairly minor injuries during the crash... or, at least, minor by modern standards. They had all broken quite a few bones in the crash. A hundred years ago, their injuries would have been life threatening. Survival would have been a medical miracle, and they would have spent years recovering. Bones did not regrow naturally. Bones grow when you’re young, and then at a certain point they stop. Regenerative medicine had come a very long way since those days.
Sparky trotted into the hospital lounge, to discover that all of her friends were there. Amarilla and Juan Carlos were off in the corner, reading a holo-newspaper; Grandma V was in the other corner watching a repeat of the news programme that Sparky had seen earlier about the FutureTec arrests. DC Hopely and Dizzy were playing chess. Or, more accurately, Dizzy was wiping the floor with her.
‘Uh...let's see, king... anyway, Queen takes Pawn. Okay?’ DC Hopely said.
‘Bishop takes Knight's Pawn’, Dizzy said without emotion on her face.
‘Grr, lousy move! Um, Rook to King 1’, DC Hopely said, making her next move.
I'm sorry, Hopely, I think you missed it. Queen to Bishop 3, Bishop takes Queen, Knight takes Bishop. Checkmate in three moves!’ Dizzy said with a grin.
‘I give up!’ DC Hopely said. ‘I’m never playing with you again! I swear it’s like the equivalent of the playground bully holding you at forelegs length and kicking you repeatedly in the shins!’
Dizzy patted DC Hopely on the shoulder, reassuring her. ‘Don’t worry Hopely, you’ll eventually learn how to suck less’, Dizzy said with a coy smile.
‘Don’t tempt me Dizzy Doo! I know how to kill you and get away with it!’ DC Hopely said with a growl.
Both of them began to smirk, and couldn’t help but break out into a fit of giggles. Sparky couldn’t help but smile at her friends as she watched. Dizzy looked up and noticed Sparky standing in the doorway and smiled brightly at her. ‘Sparky!’ Dizzy called out, causing everyone in the room to look up.
‘Hey’, Sparky said with a smile as she trotted into the room and sat down on the sofa next to Dizzy. Everyone else in the room got up and gathered around. Dizzy was first to notice Sparky’s lack of cutie mark, and Sparky caught her staring and couldn’t help but smirk. ‘Jeeze Dizzy, we’ve all just come back together and the first thing you do is start staring at my flank? I didn’t realise you were so hot to trot’.
Dizzy turned bright red from embarrassment, as everyone in the room couldn’t help but giggle. ‘It’s not that! Your cutie mark is gone!’ she cried out defensively. Everyone stopped giggling immediately and turned to look, only to discover that she was right.
Sparky placed a hoof on Dizzy’s shoulder and offered her a small smile. ‘Oh relax Dizzy, I’m just teasing... I know it’s gone’.
‘But how... why?’ DC Hopely asked, still processing the moment.
‘I don’t know... but I’ve been thinking back to what Hannibal said. It’s not the cutie mark itself that was important, it was the meaning behind it. It was the catalyst for our adventure to Tartarus, without it, none of us would have come together...’ Sparky said with a smile as she turned to each of her friends. ‘I would have never been able to get this far without all of you’.
‘And we couldn’t have made it back without you Sparky’, Dizzy said as she rested her chin on Sparky’s shoulder, looking up at her best friend in admiration.
‘Not everyone made it back though’, DC Hopely said with a frown. ‘Shortfuse, Korolev, Marusova, Hannibal, the crew of the Discovery One...’
Sparky nodded her head. ‘They didn’t make it home... but they didn’t die for nothing, the ones responsible for the Discovery One tragedy are going to prison for a very long time, DCI Auditore and DS Kelso used the information Hannibal gave me to make the arrests’, Sparky said. ‘Our friends may be gone, but they will not be forgotten’.
Dizzy nodded her head in agreement. ‘We will make sure of that’.
Sparky, Dizzy, and DC Hopely sat on the moist ground in the Freetown district cemetery, staring at the headstone before them.
Lost, but never forgotten.
They had come to say their last goodbyes. Sparky smiled at Shortfuse’s headstone, remembering her last words. Shortfuse had told her that when it was her time to die, if heaven was real, to meet her at the bar. Sparky opened her saddlebags and levitated a small bottle of alcohol out from it. Sparky smirked; it was a bottle of Pan Equestrian Gargle Blaster, the drink that had started it all. ‘I got this for you Shortfuse, I hope you like it’, she added as she uncorked the bottle and poured it out onto the freshly dug earth, allowing it soak into the ground. ‘Just... ah... save some for me when I see you again huh?’
Grandma V, Amarilla, and Juan Carlos stood a couple of metres back from the grave site, watching as their friends made their goodbyes. Grandma V smiled and turned towards Amarilla. ‘So... Applejack, what will you do now?’ she asked.
‘Please... Vinyl Scratch, I have not been Applejack in a long time’, Amarilla said with a frown. ‘I do not know, things... they are different now’.
‘They certainly are’, Grandma V said, nodding her head in agreement. ‘Will you be returning to Hispaña?’ she asked.
‘For a time’, Amarilla said. ‘I do not know if I will stay, though’.
‘Are you ready to come home?’ Grandma V asked.
‘To Equestria? No, Equestria is not mine to come home to, you and I are relics of an era gone by, Vinyl Scratch. Equestria belongs to them now’, Amarilla said, pointing to Sparky, DC Hopely, and Dizzy. ‘I envy them, some day, their time will come to an end, and they will hand the world off to the next generation. Something that I cannot do, I will be here until the end of time’.
‘It’s not all bad, Amarilla’, Grandma V said with a grin. ‘Admit it, it felt great to be back in the action again, didn’t it?’
Amarilla nodded her head in agreement. ‘I miss our friends’, she said.
‘I do too’, Grandma V said with a nod. ‘No one can replace Twilight, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, and Rarity’.
‘No... no they cannot’, Amarilla said with a frown. ‘How did you do it, Vinyl Scratch? You were here to watch all of them wither away and die, how did you stand it?’
‘It wasn’t easy... it never was’, Grandma V said shaking her head. ‘But, I focused on the good times we had! When things were hard, I remembered the time we went to Trotterdam’.
Amarilla couldn’t help but face hoof, shaking her head in disappointment. ‘Vinyl Scratch...’ she said with a sigh.
‘What was wrong with Trotterdam?’ Grandma V snapped back at her.
‘Adjusting for inflation, you caused 100,000 pounds of property damage! That is what was wrong with Trotterdam!’ Amarilla said with a sigh.
‘Hey! I put the fires out!’ Grandma V said defensively.
‘You made them worse!’ Amarilla retorted.
‘Worse... or better?’ Grandma V said with a grin.
‘Stop that!’ Amarilla said, gently driving a hoof into the elderly mare’s flank. They couldn’t help but giggle in remembrance. Despite everything that they had been through during those days a hundred years ago, those were happy times, and they wouldn’t trade them for the world.
Amarilla and Grandma V stared out into the sunset, giving their friends one last hurrah in remembrance. Just like Shortfuse Skydancer. They would never forget Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and Rarity; their best friends forever.
Kelso and Viola stood on the hill looking over the Freetown cemetery, watching as the crew of the Cosmonaut Anatoliy Leninov said goodbye to their departed friend. Kelso couldn’t help but feel for them. They had lost so much, but they had gained each other. Kelso too, had gained much from this wild ride that had been their lives. She looked over to Viola and smiled. She was glad it was over now. Maybe she could focus on being happy.
‘I hope I am not interrupting anything?’ said a new voice from behind her. Kelso turned to discover a purple unicorn clad in the line uniform of the Republican Navy. Kelso recognised her immediately. This was her client, the one who had hired her to investigate FutureTec.
‘No... not at all’, Kelso said.
‘I think introductions are finally in order’, the unicorn said with a smile as she extended a hoof for a shake. ‘Vice Admiral Dula Heartstrings, the new Chief of the Republican Navy’, she said with a smile.
Kelso shook back, smiling at Dula Heartstrings warmly. ‘Pleased to finally make your acquaintance, vice admiral’, she said.
‘Call me Dula’, Dula said as she released Kelso’s hoof from her own. She took her place besides the detectives and looked out over the cemetery.
‘I can’t believe it’s over’, Kelso said.
‘It might be for today, Detective Sergeant Kelso’, Dula said. ‘But one has to remember, that tomorrow is always a new day’.