As she got closer, Blossom could tell something right away; she was smaller than most of these ponies, albeit not by too much. It makes sense, she thought. We're only 12, still young by human standards. Most of these ponies are adults. She was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she didn't notice another pony crossing her path until they collided.
"Oof!" Both Blossom and her new acquaintance went sprawling. From the sound of things, the other pony had dropped a few grocery bags. Blossom herself landed face-first in a mudhole, much to her embarrassment. I've already cleaned my hair 3 times today! she thought with a groan. She could hear a few other ponies chuckling, as well as one very nearby voice.
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry, I wasn't looking where I was going at all!" The voice was cultured and female. Dragging her face out of the mud and shaking it a little, Blossom got a look at the speaker. She was another unicorn, one with a pure white coat and a curly purple mane and tail. The curls looked like they'd been styled that way on purpose. A few paper bags lay scattered around, though it looked like nothing had spilled.
"It's okay," Blossom said, pushing herself upright. "I wasn't paying any attention either. No harm done."
"No harm?" the white mare exclaimed. "My dear, I've completely ruined your mane. I simply must apologize in the best way possible!" As she spoke, her bags were lifted in a soft blue aura. "Come along, dear, I'll have you fixed up in no time at all!"
Blossom, distracted by remembering Bubble's words about unicorn magic, found herself being pulled along by the other unicorn's own telekinesis. "But-I-wait!" she tried to explain, to no avail. She found herself being led to the circular building with the spire, which bore a sign reading, 'Carousel Boutique'. Blossom hadn't imagined that ponies could run a boutique. Maybe this place won't be as bad as I thought…
A quick rinse and dry later, Blossom found herself being whisked through a fashion show the likes of which she'd never seen before. She'd been forced into half-a-dozen different outfits, when her 'host' had finally settled on a red frilly vest bordered with rubies.
"Well, my dear, what do you think?" the white unicorn asked, obviously pleased with this choice.
Blossom was entranced. She had never thought ponies would have such a sense of fashion! "This… is one of the best designs I've ever seen! I mean, I've worked on dresses before, but never with jewels. You've woven them into these outfits seamlessly. You're quite possibly the best fashion designer I've ever had the pleasure to meet!"
Her host's eyes sparkled. "Isn't it the truth? I've designed outfits fit for royalty. And you, my dear, have a better eye than most. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!" She smiled, then gasped. "Oh! Where have my manners gone? I've been so rude, dragging you into my store, and I haven't even given you my name!" Recovering her smile, she held out a hoof. "I'm Rarity, owner of the Carousel Boutique. Welcome to Ponyville!"
Blossom smiled back. "I'm Blossom," she replied, and shook Rarity's hoof with her own. With ponies like her, I think I might enjoy it here in Ponyville.
Bubbles was flying over the town, surveying the location of every building. She couldn't help but smile. It's so peaceful here…so serene…
The peace was shattered by a shout from behind and above her. "Incoming!!" Seconds from being run over by an out-of-control pegasus, Bubbles kicked off the air into a backwards somersault. At the height of her jump, she saw a rainbow-colored blur zoom by underneath, impacting with a cloud. Bubbles completed her somersault, and flew over to the cloud, a bit concerned as the other pony emerged.
It was another pegasus, as she thought. Her body was similar in hue to Bubbles herself. Her mane and tail, however, were almost a literal rainbow, including six of the main colors, from red to indigo. Both were done in a spiky style that heavily reminded Bubbles of Buttercup. Her rose-colored eyes were currently gazing at Bubbles with an appraising look.
"Nice reflexes," the rainbow-maned pegasus said at last, smiling. She patted the cloud next to her. Bubbles, taking the invitation, landed. It wasn't the first time she had sat down on a cloud. "You've got some moves, avoiding me like you did with hardly any warning and all. You got a name?" The pegasus's voice was brash, but friendly.
"I'm Bubbles," the blond pegasus answered, holding out a hoof.
"The name's Rainbow Dash," the other introduced herself, shaking the offered hoof. "You know, not every pegasus has the skill to do what you did. You a good flier?"
Bubbles blinked at the question. "Well, I like to think so, yes."
Rainbow got a gleam in her eyes. "Well, do you think you're good enough to take on the fastest flier in all Equestria? That is to say, me?"
Bubbles arched an eyebrow at the title. Someone's confident, she thought idly. Out loud, she asked, "Not sure. What's in it for me?"
Rainbow Dash blinked. "Whaddya mean, what's in it for you?! You're challenging the fastest flier in Equestria! If you win somehow, you get the right to call yourself that. If you lose, you can still say you had fun. It's as simple as that!"
Bubbles cocked her head to the side. "So… you race… for fun?" Bubbles wasn't an idiot. Call her a 'bimbo', and she'd clock you upside the head. Still, she was rather naive about certain things, such as sports.
"Uh, yeah! Why else would I race? Well, aside from practicing for the Wonderbolts," Rainbow was quick to add.
Not that I know who the Wonderbolts are, Bubbles thought. Still, she smiled. "Well, if you're practicing, I suppose I can oblige you."
"Great!" Rainbow began scanning around. "Alright, you see that cloud waaaay over there? Over the library? That's our endpoint."
The 'library', it seemed, was inside the tree with windows. Blossom might be in there by now… Nodding, Bubbles set herself in a racing stance. She'd seen some track-and-field races in her school days, so she knew a bit about how it worked. Next to her, Rainbow Dash took a similar stance. "So, are we going to have a countdown, or what?"
Dash smirked. "On your mark… get set… GO!" The rainbow-maned pegasus's legs fired, hurtling her forward at a speed few ponies could match.
Bubbles, however, was one of those few ponies. She kicked off the cloud at the same time Rainbow did, and flapped her wings furiously. She kept pace with Rainbow easily. Seeing this, Rainbow began to flap her wings harder, trying to get ahead. Bubbles, in response, matched the rhythm of Rainbow's wingbeats, keeping them neck-and-neck. Whenever Rainbow increased her speed, Bubbles matched it.
They collided with the cloud above the library at the exact same time, as Bubbles had planned on. She had no desire to be called the 'fastest flier in Equestria'. She wasn't competitive, after all. Next to her, Rainbow gave her a critical look.
"Not bad at all, Bubbles. But that was just a straight-shot course. Tying me on a straight course isn't that big a deal. It's when you add things like twists and turns and the like that I can really show what I've got." The rainbow-maned pegasus was trying to sound gruff, but Bubbles could hear that she had actually impressed the 'fastest flier'.
"It's no big deal, Rainbow. I'm not that competitive a pony, actually. I just wanted to help you get some practice for the Wonderbolts," Bubbles said.
Rainbow raised an eyebrow. "Huh. Could've fooled me. You looked pretty serious during that little flight." She then smiled. "Now, if you really wanna help me practice, then you've gotta wait until I can get a real race course set up. That could take a while."
Bubbles blinked, but then smiled. "Sure. Just tell me when you've gotten things ready, and I'll be ready to help you out!"
"Great! This friendship is looking good," Rainbow Dash said, throwing a foreleg around Bubbles's neck. "By the way, welcome to Ponyville!"
Inwardly, Bubbles blinked at the casual acknowledgement of friendship, but then she smiled. Now that I think about it, we Powerpuff Girls don't have much in the way of true friends… this looks like a good time to change that.
Buttercup was lost. She could normally follow directions as well as the next person… when flying, anyway. On the ground, she needed something to follow, or someone to help her. She didn't have either at the moment.
She had taken the side road down for a while, but had gotten herself completely turned around and lost when she'd tripped over a loose stone. That trip had sent her careening off the path. Now she couldn't find the path, despite searching her best.
"Darn it, I wish Bubbles were here. She could probably find the path for me." Thinking about her sister made her remember why she was having such problems in the first place. "Argh! I just don't get it. Why were we all separated into different breeds? We're sisters, for crying out loud, we should at least have all been the same breed."
In her frustration, she kicked at a nearby tree with one of her hind legs. She hadn't used her full force, as she didn't hold grudges against plant life. Still, she was rather surprised when she found herself buried under a shower of apples. Surfacing, she looked at the apple pile she'd found herself in, then glanced around. She had stumbled into an apple orchard.
"Oh, great. That's all I need. If the orchard's owner comes out here and sees this, they are going to be peeved that I knocked down all of the apples on this tree," she groaned.
"Ah wouldn't say ah'd be peeved, more like ah'm curious as t'how ya bucked all the apples off with jus' one leg," came a southern drawl from behind her. Were it not for the feminine tone, Buttercup would have linked the voice to a certain territorial hillbilly back home. Still, she turned around slowly. If this pony is in any way pink, I'm booking it, she told herself.
Her fears, fortunately, were unfounded. The mare in question wasn't pink at all. Her body was colored orange, and she had a blond mane and tail, both tied off at the ends. Green eyes peered at Buttercup from beneath the rim of a brown hat. Overall, she gave a much more welcoming appearance than Fuzzy Lumpkins did.
"Um… hi. Sorry about this," Buttercup said, pulling herself out of the pile of apples.
"Don't worry 'bout it none, ah ain't mad, sugarcube. Like ah said, ah'm jus' curious as t'how ya bucked a full tree's crop off with jus' one leg," the cowpony repeated.
"Well… I've done a lot of training with my legs in my time. I'm probably one of the strongest ponies around," Buttercup said, truthfully. She had done a fair amount of kicking villains and criminals around, especially when she was younger.
The cowpony nodded, and smiled broadly. "With a kick like that, ah don' doubt it. Hay, ah thought fer a second ya might be family. But, ah've never seen ya at any o' the reunions, so that ain't it. Name's Applejack, by the way." She held out a hoof.
Buttercup blinked, then smiled back. "Buttercup. Nice to meet you," she replied, shaking the proffered hoof.
"Likewise," Applejack nodded. "So, if'n ya don' mind mah askin', what got ya so worked up ya decided to take it out on mah apple trees?"
Buttercup blinked, then sighed. "Well… I just got into town today. I came with… a couple of friends, a pegasus and a unicorn." She decided that saying they were her sisters wouldn't be believable, since they were all different breeds. "I've… just always been jealous. I mean, Blossom can move things with her mind and Bubbles can fly. Me? I can't do anything cool like that. I'm just a normal pony." She looked down, her earlier depression coming back full force.
Fortunately, she still wasn't alone. "Sugarcube, ah don' know who ya been talkin' to ta go an' get those kinda ideas in yer head. So ya don' have magic. So what? So ya cain't fly. Who cares?" Applejack leaned in, reaching out a hoof to raise Buttercup's head to look her in the eyes. "There are plenty o' things we earth ponies kin do that pegasi an' unicorns cain't. If'n it weren't fer us, the other breeds would starve. We grow most of Equestria's food, y'know. Not ta say pegasi and unicorns cain't grow their own, they jus' ain't as good as we are. Plus, we're usually stronger an' tougher than the average pony of another breed. Hay, ya done proved that already. Ah've yet ta see a unicorn or pegasus that kin buck a whole Sweet Apple Acres apple tree with one leg."
The cowpony's kind tone, combined with the southern drawl, had the desired effect of lifting Buttercup's spirits. "Yeah… you're right. I shouldn't sulk about the things I don't have. I gotta be proud of the things I do have, and work with them."
Applejack smiled. "Thar ya go, Buttercup. Ya jus' gotta think positive." She then looked around. "Say, ah was due ta bring in some o' our crop to market in Ponyville, anyway… Ya wouldn' mind lendin' a hoof, would ya?"
Buttercup blinked. "Well… what exactly would that entail?"
"Nothin' big. Ya'd just need ta pull the wagon inta town, while ah go on ahead and set up shop." Applejack led Buttercup through the orchard as she was talking. They soon came to a large barn. Near the barn was a wagon laden with various types of apples. "Normally, mah brother Big Macintosh would haul the wagon, but he went and hurt his ankle, so he ain't up to pullin' nothin' for a while."
Buttercup nodded. "Sounds simple enough… assuming I don't trip off the path again." Noting Applejack's odd look, the green pony sighed. "I have a bad sense of direction when I don't have something to follow, okay?"
"Ah. That'd explain why ya were in mah apple orchard, lookin' a little lost." The cowpony wasn't laughing, though she did have a small smile. "Don' worry none, ah won' say nothin' to nopony else. Meet ya in Ponyville!" With that, Applejack turned and headed down the path, under a sign that read 'Sweet Apple Acres'.
Sighing, she looked at the wagon, then turned around, backing herself into the harness. "Now how in the hay am I supposed to hook this up without help?" She blinked at the slip, as she'd meant to say 'heck'. "Great. Not even in town an hour, and I'm already getting used to the place." Not that there's anything wrong with that…