Lightning flared his wings. Exactly what this stallion was doing on his front porch he didn't know, but he knew he didn't want him there.
"Easy buddy, I just want to talk."
"If you drag Scootaloo into any more of your horsecrap I will kill you. Do you understand?"
"So aggressive. I see why my daughter takes a liking to you."
"You're not her father anymore. You stay away from her."
"Boy she's got you whipped. Can't even make friendly conversation with her old man?"
"You beat her, demoralized her, and nearly drove her to kill herself. How DARE you call yourself her father!" Lightning's rage boiled. He prepared to attack the monster of a stallion standing in front of him.
"And just how can you substantiate those claims? How do you know I'm the monster she's made me out to be? Did it ever cross your mind that she could have been lying to you this whole time? That perhaps your loyalties and your love are misplaced?" Lightning wasn't sure what to say to that. He had always trusted Scootaloo implicitly, and thus never thought to question anything she told him. But why would Scootaloo make that up? And why would Rainbow and Spitfire take her in if he didn't in fact harm her? He knew better than to believe anything Jade told him. Lightning stepped closer to Jade. The rage from being convinced to question Scootaloo for even a second consumed him.
"In the entire time I've known Scootaloo, she has never once given me reason not to trust her. She's always been there for me whenever I needed a friend, even if she herself needed one. She has supported me in everything I have ever done in the last four years even if she didn't like it. She hasn't missed a single one of my races for anything. Now you waltz into Ponyville and try to tell me she was lying about her entire life's story? Buck off Jade. By the way, you're trespassing. I suggest you leave before I decide to kill you where you stand in 'self defense'." Jade swallowed. He never expected so much loyalty from such a young stallion. Nor did he expect such a threat to come from him. What worried Jade even more was that he had no reason to believe the colt was simply talking tough. The fire in his eyes said it all. Jade was no fighter. He relied on fear alone to control his family, and it was one thing to beat a defenseless mare. To beat a well built stallion that was half his age would be impossible. Jade took flight.
"Fair enough foal. Your blind loyalty is somewhat remarkable. I hope it doesn't bite you in the flank." With that Jade flew away. Lightning watched him closely the entire time. He didn't like that Jade had flown in the general direction of Scootaloo's house. Lightning took off to his friend's home at full speed. He needed to make sure Jade wasn't going to pay a visit to her.
Scootaloo was just about to walk out the door when Lightning flew right through it at full speed. The resulting crash was painful for both of the young ponies, but fortunately nopony got hurt.
"Owww...that was a little hard for a glomp Lightning..." Lightning quickly jumped to his hooves.
"Scootaloo, are you alright? Was he here too?" Lightning helped Scootaloo to her hooves.
"Was who here?" Rainbow was confused. She had just watched her daughter's coltfriend blast through the door to her home, completely destroying it and tackling her daughter at full speed. It was then that Spitfire walked in.
"What the hay was that noise? Oh, hey Lightning. You know you're gonna have to fix the door, right?"
"It doesn't matter! Was Jade here?" Everypony stiffened at the mentioning of Jade.
"Why would he have been here?" Scootaloo asked cautiously.
"He paid me a visit this morning. When he left he flew in the direction of your house." Scootaloo's irritation with her coltfriend immediately turned to concern.
"What did he say to you? Are you alright? He didn't hurt you did he?"
"He just tried to convince me that you're dishonest and disloyal. He went so far as to try to get me to question if he really hurt you as a filly." Scootaloo fumed. Rainbow and Spitfire could not have been more worried.
"I'm gonna see if Twi can get the Princess to intervene. He's going to far." Rainbow said.
"Good idea. While you do that I'll stay here to make sure he doesn't go after Aerial." Spitfire said and immediately ran to Aerial's room.
"Rainbow, didn't Twilight leave for Canterlot this morning?" Scootaloo asked. Rainbow stomped the floor.
"Buck! I forgot about that. Well I guess I have a bit of a flight ahead of me this morning." Spitfire returned to the room with Aerial leaning against her. Aerial had a gash over her right eye and was bleeding from a large wound in her stomach. Two small crimson stains adorned the fur around Spitfire's two hind hooves.
"The mule was here! He brought a knife with him. We've gotta get Aerial to Redheart now!" Lightning wasted no time in carefully lifting Aerial off the floor. Spitfire immediately ran to the bathroom and removed a long roll of gauze and began wrapping Aerial's body around the wound. "There, that should keep her from bleeding out on the way." Lightning flew Aerial out the door and began moving as fast as he could to the hospital. Aerial was already unconscious.
How did things go so wrong? Jade had only brought the knife to scare Aerial. He never expected her to attack him. She wasn't as broken as he had thought. He also wasn't expecting the golden coated filly fooler to come in and buck him in the muzzle. It didn't matter. He had to leave Ponyville as fast as he could. He landed on the porch of his cloud home just as Steel was walking out the door.
"Hi daddy. Why are you covered in red stuff?"
"Come on son, pack your things. We have to leave, now."
"But I was just making friends here. I don't want to-"
"We're leaving and that's final! Don't you argue with me!" Steel lowered his head in shame.
"Sorry daddy. I'll go pack." Steel quickly ran to his room. He was going to miss Ponyville, but if his father said they had to move that meant they had to move. Steel knew it would be for the best.
Scootaloo sat in front of her mother's bed. Tears were streaming down her face. The local authorities had searched all of Ponyville and the surrounding area for Jade and Steel but found no trace of them. This was something that Jade couldn't run from. He would be wanted through all of Equestria. His only hope was to leave Equestria altogether. Scootaloo knew that was what he would do. Run like a bucking coward. Lightning had a comforting wing wrapped around Scootaloo. He couldn't imagine what Scootaloo was going through, but he knew what she needed. Somepony that would help her through this mess. Rainbow had left a little while ago. Scootaloo wasn't paying attention to why. All that mattered to her was the mare that was laying in a hospital bed in front of her. The mare being kept alive by machinery alone. The mare that gave birth to her. After a while Aerial opened her eyes.
"Mom!" Scootaloo kept her voice as low as she could, but she certainly wasn't quiet.
"Yeah mom, it's me." Scootaloo sniffled. Spitfire walked over to the bed. She had showered to get Aerial's blood off her.
"How are you holding up Aerial?" Spitfire asked.
"I hurt...a lot." Aerial winced in pain. "What did the nurse say? And be completely honest." Spitfire lowered her head.
"It doesn't look good Aerial. You lost a lot of blood and there's internal damage."
"How much longer do I have?"
"Most likely a few more minutes. You're lucky you woke when you did. You'll be able to say goodbye." Aerial sighed, and then smiled.
"Then let's make them count. Can I be alone with Scootaloo?" Lightning and Spitfire looked at Scootaloo with concern. They both knew she was going to need somepony very soon. Scootaloo nodded and stood next to her mother. Spitfire and Lightning stepped outside.
"Scootaloo...you've grown into twice the mare I ever was. I'm proud of you." Scootaloo smiled and wiped away tears.
"We'll get him for this mom, I promise we'll-"
"Not now Scootaloo. Right now I want to make things right with you."
"You already have mom." Scootaloo couldn't hold tears back any longer. Aerial smiled.
"Then at least I can go in peace. Promise me after I go you'll take care of Steel for me."
"I promise mom." Aerial closed her eyes. "I love you Scootaloo. I always have and always will."
"I love you too mom. I love you too." As Scootaloo finished the monitor next to Aerial's bed flatlined. Scootaloo fell over in tears. Lightning and Spitfire went slowly to her side. Scootaloo fell against Lightning. She made no attempt to hold back her sobs. Nurse Redheart walked in and turned off the monitor.
"I'm sorry..." There was nothing else she could say.