Long Time, No See
Rainbow Dash was not a morning pony. As knock after muted knock thumped throughout the house, she staggered from her bedroom with a series of tired groans. Struggling to keep her eyelids wide enough to see, she pulled her front door open with a weary hoof and snapped to full alert at the welcome sight on her porch.
“Special delivery for you, Rainbow Dash!” Ditzy Doo sung, thrusting a thick, rectangular parcel into the blue pony’s snout. Rainbow squealed and yanked the package from Ditzy’s outstretched hooves, ripping into its outer layers with her teeth.
“Whoa.” Ditzy blinked out of sync. “Is that something important, Rainbow Dash?”
“I sure hope so, Derpy!” Rainbow screeched, pummeling away the last of the packaging to reveal a practically glowing block of bound pages. “It is! It’s here! It’s finally here!”
Ditzy tilted her head. “What book is it?” she asked.
“Only the latest installment to the greatest series every created by ponykind!” she rattled off, raising the novel above her head. “Daring Do and the Poison Whispered Kiss!”
One of Ditzy’s eyes twitched. Otherwise, she made no response.
“Twilight’s been ordering a bunch of really rare books on phoenixes that burnt up all of the library’s funds for the next couple of months,” Rainbow grumbled, “so I ordered the latest volume myself! I’m gonna start my own personal collection, starting with the end!” Her grin pushed her cheeks into her eyeballs.
Ditzy’s golden eyes swiveled just a tad. “You mean… the end, the end? She’s done writing them?”
If Rainbow Dash had been paying closer attention, she might have been curious about the hopeful tone in Ditzy’s question. As it was, Rainbow was far too excited to notice.
“She better not be, whoever she is!” Rainbow exclaimed. “The author of the Daring Do series is the most awesome mare in Equestria—right after me, of course.” She flashed a cocky grin before continuing her praise. “I hope this series never ends! Daring Do is my hero!”
She let out a long sigh, practically melting as she gazed at the goldenrod pegasus smirking across the cover of the book. “What I wouldn’t give for Daring Do to be real.”
Ditzy could only grunt. Her front hooves wrung together in front of her body. Rainbow Dash cradled the brand new book like an infant while Ditzy backed away toward the edge of the cloud.
“Yeah… those fictional adventures can certainly be quite the thrill.” She forced out a chuckle.
Rainbow made a face at her unusually developed syntax (though she mentally called it “Twilight-speak”). “Uh… yeah. Very thrilling,” she agreed.
“Well, I gotta a bunch of deliveries to Daring! I mean, Do!” She smiled too widely and dove away from Rainbow’s airborne dwelling. “See ya later, Rainbow Dash!”
Rainbow rolled her eyes, spun around, shut the door, sat on her haunches, and started reading right away, grinning from ear to ear.
Ditzy swung open her front door and called out for her daughter. When nopony answered, she hurried into the kitchen and checked around for a note. Sure enough, Dinky’s scratchy mouthwriting on a square of paper informed her that the unicorn was spending time with the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Ditzy grimaced at the prospects, but tried not to worry about her little muffin as she relaxed at the kitchen table.
“Another day,” Ditzy sighed, “another bit.” She had never really liked that saying. It seemed to lack a certain rhythm.
All the same, her work was over for the day. There had been a record number of large parcels to deliver that required several time-consuming returns to the Post Office, but now it was all finished. As Ditzy tossed her empty mailbag onto the round tabletop, she asked herself aloud, “What better feeling is there than a day gone right?”
The bag made an unusual clack when it hit the table. Ditzy sat bolt upright in her chair, locking in on the sack with one wobbly eye.
“That sounded like a letter…” She gulped past the sudden lump in her throat. “Did I miss a delivery?”
With lightning speed, she shoved a hoof deep into the sack and retrieved a single, brownish envelope. Biting her lip, Ditzy checked the addressee. To her surprise, the name emblazoned on the front was “Ditzy Doo”.
“Oh my!” she chirped. “A letter? For me?” She nearly teared up then and there. She hadn’t received a single letter since her mother passed away.
Her golden eyes attempted to find the letter’s sender’s name. Frustratingly, she couldn’t get either of them to cooperate and skipped to opening the letter. Thankfully, whoever wrote it had large mouthwriting.
Long time no see! What has it been, five years? Eight? Something like that. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. I don’t know if you keep up with the Manehattan Bestsellers in that pansy little town of yours, but my new book came out a few weeks ago and it’s already at the top of the charts! My paycheck was a quite a bit more than I expected—not that I need any more bits in the vault, am I right?—but it got me thinking, it’s high time I gave myself a vacation and traveled around a bit, like the good old days. I thought, maybe I’ll go visit some ponies I haven’t seen in a while. And who better to visit first than my very own sister?
So guess what? I’m coming to Ponyville! That’s right, I’m coming to crash the party! If there ARE any parties in that dump, am I right? Well, I’m sure you’ll have something for us to do… like, stare at trees or… prank ponies! I bet those small town earth ponies are in dire need of a good pranking, huh? Anyway, even if there’s nothing to do in Phony-ville, I’m coming there to catch up with YOU, and that’ll be worth the trip in itself!
Look, Sis… I know I’m not fooling anypony. You’re probably foaming at the mouth just reading this thing. But don’t try to write to me and tell me not to come, because I’m already on my way. In fact, by the time you read this, I’ll probably be at your front door! Just… try to have an open mind, okay? Er… sorry. “Open mind” might have been poor wording. How about “open heart”? Just hear me out. I’ve got a lot on my mind.
I miss ya, Sis. I really do.
Your Loving Sister
Ditzy’s back teeth were grinding by the time she crumpled up the paper and threw it at the wall. “No,” she growled. “She can’t be serious. She can’t be coming here.”
She galloped to the front room and peeked out the window, half expecting to see a perky pegasus poised to knock. To her relief, no such mare had appeared… yet. If she meant what she wrote, she might show up at any second.
“That no-good, hard-hoofed, bit-loving, truth-bending parasprite!” Ditzy cursed. “I hope for her sake that this is all some kind of practical joke.”
She was glad Dinky was out of the house; she didn’t want her daughter to see her in such a fuming state. Then again, Dinky might be at the door at any minute, too. To calm herself down, Ditzy trotted back into her kitchen and started doing the one thing that always settled her frazzled mind.
Twenty-five minutes later, Ditzy used a protective pad to pull a batch of six crumbly muffins from the oven with her mouth. She carried the piping tray to the kitchen table and set it down on its wooden surface. Inhaling the pastries’ sweet aroma sent shivers down her spine that ruffled her light grey feathers. Dinky hadn’t yet returned to share the scrumptious snacks, but Ditzy had forgotten her pre-muffin stresses. She lifted one large treat from its circular spot and nibbled a few crumbs from its crisp exterior.
“Mmmm,” she hummed, savoring the morsel’s sweetness. “Oh Celestia, that’s good.”
“Are you eating it or doing it?” asked a scratchy voice from behind her. Ditzy yelped, tossing the muffin so hard into the air that it exploded on impact with the ceiling.
“Whoa! That was the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen a muffin do!”
The voice ripped at Ditzy’s eardrums like a manticore claw. She gritted her teeth, fueled by her layered frustrations with her new company.
“You snuck into my house,” she accused, refusing to face her unwelcome visitor, “scared me half to death, destroyed one of my muffins, and still have the gall to emphasize that stupid verb?”
The other pony guffawed. “Stupid verb? It’s probably the most important word in the Equestrian language! I don’t know what we would do without it!”
Ditzy took several deep, calming breaths in vain. “Why don’t you emphasize don’t, too? That’s a direct derivative.”
“Whoa there, Sis. Don’t go over-expanding your vocabulary on me. Let’s remember who the best-selling author is here, shall we?”
“Let’s remember who all your stupid stories are about!” Ditzy screamed, finally whipping around to face her foe. The mustard-yellow mare lifted her front hooves to shoulder height.
“Uh, they’re about me, thank you very much,” she replied.
Ditzy ground one of her hooves against the kitchen tile. “Don’t give me that. We both know those adventures had two heroines. The Sisters Doo. Isn’t that what we used to call ourselves, Daring?”
Daring Do shook out her greyscale mane. “It’s good to see you, too, Ditzy.” She held a hoof to her mouth to stifle a laugh. “Or should I say… Derpy.” Her fuchsia eyes shifted between Ditzy’s poorly angled pair as she snickered.
Ditzy leaned away in shocked confusion. “You… how did…?” she stuttered, only making Daring laugh harder.
“That’s what the stallion at the train depot called you,” she explained between giggles. “I asked where Ditzy Doo lived, and he said, ‘Oh, you mean the mailmare, Derpy?’ BA-HA-HA!” She tumbled to the floor, wiggling her hooves in the air.
Ditzy scowled. “I hate that name,” she seethed. “Don’t call me that. Please.”
Her seriousness rubbed off on Daring. She rose to her hooves with a cough and kept her gaze down. “Sorry, Sis. I just thought it was funny. I’m not here to poke fun at you, honest.”
The meek and submissive tone in her voice chipped away the tiniest fraction of the wall around Ditzy’s heart.
“Then… why are you here?” she asked.
Daring sighed through her nose. “Well, I… like I said in my letter, I’ve been thinking about you a lot. I really miss you, Ditzy.” The corners of her mouth twitched upward. “I miss the old times, when we lived the stories I write today.”
Ditzy’s furious scowl returned. “You mean the stories your books are very loosely based on? I’ve read your garbage, Daring. As much of it as I could stand, anyway. You completely cut me out of the picture, and you add things that never happened left and right purely for entertainment value.”
“Uh, hello? They’re books, Ditzy. All they are is entertainment. I didn’t set out to write a biography. This is how I make my living. So what if I exaggerate a few things?”
“Ahuitzotl? Really?” Ditzy questioned with half-closed eyes.
Daring shook her head. “Every story needs a villain, Ditz. Besides, he’s a great character! He’s been ranked in Equestrian Fiction’s Top Ten Villains for six years in a row!”
“And how many times has Ditzy Doo appeared in their Top Ten Heroes list, Daring?”
Now Daring’s eyes started to narrow. “Technically, six as well. You contributed just as much to the series’ Daring as I did,” she reminded.
“And just what did I contribute, Daring? Huh?” Ditzy shouted. “Her name? No, that’s yours. Her appearance? Oh, wait a minute, that’s yours, too. Maybe her personality? Nnnope.” She wagged her head in exaggerated bewilderment. “I just don’t know where I fit in.”
Daring’s breathing quickened as her stance tensed. “You say you’ve read the books? Then you know just as well as me that no one pony could do the things she does. All I did was take two adventurous mares, squeeze them into one, add some antagonists, and make a fortune. Is that really so wrong?”
“That’s all you did, Daring? That’s all you did?” Ditzy accused. She stomped her hoof once before spinning around, trotting around her kitchen table and defiantly plopping into the farthest seat from her sister.
“What are you doing?” Daring asked, taking a step forward as Ditzy shoved half a muffin into her mouth.
“Ignoh-wing yeoh ‘n yoh sehwfish wies,” she answered past her pastry.
“Selfish lies?” Daring repeated. “Ditzy, will you calm down and just listen to me? I came here for a reason.”
“I doh’ caew,” Ditzy spat, swallowing the mouthful. “Leave, Daring. Get out of my house. Don’t come back.”
Daring stomped her own yellow hoof. “Absolutely not!” she declared. “I am your big sister and I demand you show me the tiniest bit of respect while I try to tell you something very important.”
Ditzy let her face fall flat onto the tabletop. “Fine. Be quick about it.”
Daring cleared her throat. “Well, Ditzy, as you probably know, I just published Daring Do and—”
“The Poison Whispered Kiss,” Ditzy finished, making obnoxious kissy noises with her crumb-spotted lips.
Snorting once, Daring continued. “Yes, that. And, you see… I’m really proud of it. It’s a great addition to the series, has lots of elements that I haven’t dealt with before, and my publishers are really excited for the next installment. They want me to finish a first draft by the end of next month.” She gulped, her pupils shrinking in panic. “But Ditzy… I don’t have anything else to write! I’m fresh out of adventures!”
Ditzy cocked her head to one side. “Whuuah?” she asked too loudly.
Daring ignored her rudeness. “I’m sure you’ve noticed that each book is based on one of our adventures, Ditzy. We found a lot of mystic artifacts for Dad when he got sick. Of course I left that out of the books. The fictional Daring just has a natural thirst for adventure, you know? If I added the wish of a dying father, the readers would take the whole thing too seriously.
“Anyway, we had a good run, you and me. We probably could have lived like that forever! And then, of course, we had that… ‘falling apart’, you might call it.”
Ditzy actually growled.
“Heheh… ahem. Every good thing has an end, right, Ditz?” She blanched. “But my publishers disagree. They want another story, but I have nothing to give them! I can’t come up with this stuff off the top of my head. I just write down what I remember and, you know… add some bad guys. But now? I’ve caught up! I just published the last of our adventures. I’m stuck, Ditzy! I don’t know what to do!” She ended abruptly and bit her lip.
Ditzy raised an eyebrow. “That’s it?” she asked as her eyes shifted.
Daring nodded. “Uh, yeah.” She glanced around the silent room. “That’s it.”
“You came to me for… writing advice?”
Daring groaned and ran her forehooves over her face. “No, Ditzy. I came here to ask you to… you know…” She jerked her head toward the front door.
“I wanna go on another adventure!” Daring finally blurted, flapping into the air and hovering there for a moment.
Ditzy stared at her airborne sister for several seconds.
“I want you to go dig up your old gear, hop on the train with me, and let’s go find some rare ancient artifact,” she summarized, animating her words with her hooves. “Then I’ll write about it, and everypony’s happy. It’s not that difficult.”
Finally, Ditzy snapped into sensibility. “Not that difficult? Are you CRAZY? Daring, I’ve settled down. I have a job here, and a daughter.”
Daring’s own eyes went for a short spin. “You have a what?”
Ditzy donned a proud smile. “You heard me. I’m a mother now. I adopted an orphaned unicorn from Canterlot and have raised her for the last seven years.”
“Ah, great! That’s just great!” Daring complained, throwing her hooves above her head in defeat. “Now I don’t have a chance at convincing you to come along.”
“You never did.”
“A mother? To a unicorn? Oh, Celestia….” Daring dropped to her haunches in a miserable pout.
The grey pegasus finally felt a twinge of pity for her sister. “Oh, Daring,” she sighed, resting her chin on her hooves. “I’m sorry, but you were stupid to think I’d agree to that whether I was a mother or not.”
Offended, Daring shot her an inquisitive look.
“Because,” Ditzy continued, “you seem to be completely ignoring that it’s been more than eight years since I’ve even heard from you, and I’m not ready to forgive you for what you did to me and our family.”
Daring’s jaw dropped. “What… what I did to you?” she clarified, stunned.
Ditzy’s focused eye twitched. “Don’t you dare play innocent. You know exactly what I’m talking about.”
“IT WAS AN ACCIDENT!” Daring yelled, leaping from her crouch quick enough to startle her sister.
“Oh, please!” Ditzy scolded. “It may not have ended the way you expected, but it certainly wasn’t an accident!”
“And what exactly did I do to our family?”
Ditzy scoffed at her. “You must be joking. You’re telling me you don’t remember running away from home after Dad died? Right when Mom needed us the most?”
A knot formed in Daring’s throat. “I… er…”
“You’re telling me you don’t remember breaking your promise to him? You knew I couldn’t find the rest of the artifacts on my own, not after what you did to me.”
“Accidentally or not, I was no longer fit for the job. You could have finished it yourself, but instead you up and left to pursue your career as a writer, for Pete’s sake.”
Daring’s rosy irises glistened with fiery emotion as her sister continued.
“And then you had go and change the spelling of our last name. Mom nearly died when she saw the title of that first novel! You may as well have spat in her face!”
“My ‘Do’ is an action word,” Daring shouted. “Your ‘Doo’ is the sound a baby foal makes when it takes a crap in its diaper!”
“That’s it!” Ditzy shrieked, lunging at her sister with a propelling snap of her wings. The table crashed violently to the floor, tossing four crumbly muffins into the rage-heated air.