Ah woke up in bed with a start. 'Was it all a dream? Nope! No way am Ah goin' down that road o’ nonsense!'
My name is Apple Bloom. Ah'm still an Earth Pony. Ah look 'round my room, it has bright colors like it should. It was home! But now everythin' has shadows and the lights seem brighter, instead of everythin' bein' the same brightness dependin' on the time of day like Ah've always known. There was some of my drawings on the wall, they were mine, but they were a lot better drawn than Ah remember. But it all felt so right. So homey.
Ah get out of bed and hurry to a mirror, and see that the swirl marks on my forehead and back are gone! But, Zecora's earring is still there! Ah'm kinda surprised, but Ah can't say that Ah don't like it.
Ah notice my Crusader Cape hangin' up, lookin’ the same as when Sweetie sewed it with Rarity's gold silk. But Ah touch it, and it FEELS different somehow; there’s a peace and calm to it. Ah remembered, Sweetie Belle still used Rarity's gold silk for our capes, but she also used some red cloth Rarity had gotten from Pinkie Pie's sister and stuffed in the closet.
= 'It's Strictly Up To You' - Wizard of Oz, 1982, Aileen Quinn =
Ah look outside. Old Sweet Apple Acres, Ponyville and Equestria, everythin's lookin' how it should! No fog! No light in the sky that could be a sun or a moon! No charcoal sketches, nothin' being all the wrong shade of pink! This Equestria! My Equestria! My Equus! My home! It's free!
And... and... oh my Celestia! MY CUTIE MARK! IT'S THERE! IT'S REAL! It's here, it's here, it's here, it's heeeeeeeereee!!! Ah jumped for joy, shouting so happily Ah bet they heard me all the way in Canterlot!
It was a heart crossed over with a hammer and a paintbrush, all surrounded by a blue shield with gold trim.
"Ah saved the world by gettin' my cutie mark! Nopony's ever gonna top that cutie mark story!" Ah did a little dance around my room, bouncin' off the walls.
Whooooopie!!!! I kept it! It's there! It's mine! Ah don't think Ah could stop smilin' if Ah wanted to! Ah was the one who felt free now.
Ah noticed somethin' else too... next to my bed on the nightstand... It was Razzaroo's book... Ah opened and flipped through it. It wasn't Razzaroo's journal exactly after all, but it did have a copy of everyin' we'd done! It was even dedicated to us at the front! With Razzaroo's byline on it! There wasn't any forward, but who the heck reads those anyway?
Ah didn't know it yet, but two more copies were right next to Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle's beds too!
"APPLE BLOOM!" Applejack practically kicked the door down. "APPLE BLOOM! Are ya alright?! Are ya hurt?! How do ya feel?!" Applejack lifted me up with her forelegs and looked me over. "Those swirlie marks are gone at least. Apple Bloom, the Truth, in yer eye, it ain't there!" Applejack caught herself. "That is, Ah mean-"
My eyes widened. "Applejack, ya remember?"
"Ah've got the Truth, ya think Ah wouldn't remember, wait a dang-dung minute, ya remember?!"
Ah smile and nodded. "Ah... with the help of all my friends, Ah got to the printin' press, but it kinda needed fixin', and the Princesses' kin asked me to fix up a few more things while Ah was at it... And well-"
"HUh?! WHAT?! YA-!!" She sputtered, when her brain finally caught up with what she was seein'. "Apple Bloom!!! Ya got yer cutie mark!"
"... Not bad fer savin' the world huh?" Ah grinned.
"Oh Apple Bloom!" Big sister hugged me and gave me the twirl of twirls! "YA DID IT! YA REALLY DID IT!"
= 'Kids Just Being Kids' - Fairy Odd Parents =
What came next was a roller coaster that Ah didn't want to stop! There ain't a word for how happy Ah was seein' Granny Smith back to normal! Winona! Big Mac! Everythin'!
And no, not a single one of my family minded my mark wasn't an apple; not that Ah really ever thought they would be! Remember my fake hula hoop cutie mark?
Cheerilee got her cutie mark in a dream, so Ah said same for who asked.
"Guess we got get Pinkie to makin' the Cute-Ceañera to end all Cute-Ceañeras," AJ smiled.
Granny did a dance at seein’ mah cutie mark.
"What 'bout yer hip?" AJ asked.
"What about it?" She asked and kept dancin'. AJ glanced at me and Ah grinned. "This sireebob is a heck of a lot better news than them nightmares last night! Great rain to wash the filth away!" Granny commented.
"Yep indeed!" Big Mac said nodded.
"Nightmares?" AJ asked.
Allow us, Princess Luna, to interject at this time. Reality was so liquid at the point where Apple Bloom had freed the world of the Crawling Chaos' curse, that we were able to shift the entire reality into the dream world. This prevented the horrible incarnations of our beloved subjects from echoing off as shadows of existence to haunt reality. It required more power than we think we have ever used or will likely ever use again, and twas only possible due to the liquid state reality was in. We also used a tiny fraction of the power Our Father gave us when we were first created.
Many ponies will quickly forget these dreams, as is the nature of dreams, many others will take these dream as a message to be grateful for what they have, or a sign of what problems they should be facing.
Many ponies will notice dreams that run parallel to other ponies' they know, but most shall again only take it as proof as an omen to be grateful for what they have, or to have the courage to speak their heart to those they love.
This includes yonder filly Twist, not only now quite grateful for her special friendship with Truffle, but will also meet with brave Apple Bloom, and she shall do as she did as she remembers dreaming of, making peace with her for wrongs both real and perceived. There will be no traumatized ponies from these dreams. Tis not happening. The world is a wonderful place.
Now we believe Apple Bloom has some slight explaining to do. Heh.
Ah got an extra special breakfast for gettin' my cutie mark. But it could have been an ordinary breakfast and it still never've tasted so good!
AJ said, "Ma and pa would be so proud of ya right now. Ah know it."
Ah cried a little, so did Applejack.
"Now young filly," Granny Smith said, frownin' just a tiny bit. "Would ya mind tellin' me what the deal is with that gosh-darn earrin' ya got now? Ah ain't raised no hoodlum."
"Nope!" Big Mac added frownin' a bit too.
My eyes shrank a little. "Oh... " I shook a bit. "That's... it was a gift from Zecora, it was her way of sayin' that we're part of the same herd, Ah mean friends."
"... Since it's yer cutie mark day, Ah say we just let it slide," AJ said. One look being all she needed to say she'd've had me take it off before. "Yer grownin' up... way too fast if ya ask me... ya had a dang lot more explorin' to do, so much more to see and do. So yer gonna have'ta start makin' some of yer own decisions. But... don't go forgettin'... as much as those dang-gun crusades of yers drove us and the town crazy... you girls have a talent for pickin' up new things, so don't go lettin' THAT go to waste either! Ya hear!?"
"Loud and clear!"
"Now ya got chores to finish and get ready for school don't ya forget!" AJ said.
"Dangit." Ah gave a slight snort.
Granny Smith said, "Ya know what they say, ''before cutie mark': buck trees, carry water, 'after cutie mark': buck trees, carry water.'"
The time to head off to school came a lot sooner than later. Applejack had some partin' words to share with me.
"Apple Bloom? Ya know that stuff Ah said about havin' to accept a cutie mark will only come when it's time? Ah'm not sayin' that ain't true... cause Ah know that's true about something else too. But... Ah get why ya wanted so badly ta find what it is that makes you, -you- with a little help from yer friends. And ya wantin' to work hard as ya can to earn it. Ah know that's kinda closin' the gate after the horse runs out... But AH felt it still kinda needed to be said."
We hugged. "Thanks, Applejack!"
"And Apple Bloom... Ah know... Ah know ya had to give up yer innocence, ya had to see the dark side of ponies that most ponies never have'ta see... it's wrong ya had ta go through all that."
Maud Pie said the same thing when this all started. “It happens. Part o’ growin’ up, Ah guess. But ya know what? We kept our hearts pure IN SPITE of all that. Ah still believe ponies are basically good, and ... that selfless love, is strong than selfish love!”
"... Ah'm proud of ya little sister." She ruffled my mane. "Ah''m more proud than ya could possibly conceive. And that's the truth. " Her eyes narrowed ever a bit. "But would ya mind tellin' me 'bout some of my memories? Ah can't but notice some things are missin'. Ya better have a good explanation, young filly."
"Ah found out, some ponies WANT to live in a world full of big toys and fancier stuff and a lot of politicking and log-jesters. Kinda like some movies Ah've seen. And some ponies DON'T! They just both wanted it really bad fer different reasons. It kinda felt like two different stories trying to exist at once. So Ah just thought, Ah'd split our universe in two. Makin' it its own twin. With every pony in one world havin' a twin in the other world. Ah had a lot of stuff that wasn't evil, but wasn't fittin' in anywhere, so it didn't feel right to just have it go to nowhere.
"Now there's this world, that doesn't have all those big old weapons no more that ponies could blow themselves up eventually as they get bigger and bigger, like in that video game ya and yer friend sued fer showin' ya like that. Don't worry, Ah was careful about what I took out and what Ah replaced with somethin' that fit. We use magic and the Deers' nature stuff more now. We've still got a good guard, just they're good in a different way.
"And the world that does have'em. The big guys upstairs said they'd be FINE movin' back tah let 'em be on their own...And there are good ponies there who Ah think can make sure they won't blow themselves up. They're just good in a different way. So it's kinda like Ah split a fantasy action movie into a fantasy movie and an action movie with different ratings."
Applejack was silent for a bit.
"As long as it's what THEY actually wanted and not just what YA wanted Apple Bloom," Applejack said matter of fact with 'no funny business' face.
"Ah promise, cross my heart, hope to fly, stick a cupcake in my eye!"
Applejack hugged her. "Alright then, Ah'll trust ya."
Ah giggled. "They also now have a statue of ya and yer friends in the town square for beatin' Nightmare Moon and Discord."
"Princess Celestia also gave ya all some honorary titles so if trouble happens and ya can't reach her, the authorities will know yer not clownin' around."
I still woke up at Rarity's house, like I'd been doing for over a year now. My name is still Sweetie Belle. Lucky for me, Mom and Dad were visiting for breakfast today... they hadn't done that before. Ah could hear 'em talking down stairs with Rarity. My room was still there waiting for me at their house... our house.
I think they were talking about how much they truly loved each other... and me.
I checked my saddlebag. No magic staff, no magic crystal, I guess life isn't a video game anymore.
I could still feel her too. And let her know,
"I can feel you Tiara, you're scared, as much as you don't want to admit it... it's okay... we'll save you."
I felt something else too... a ‘response’ of shock and surprise. Of not expecting kindness... but being given it anyway...
And I felt her feelings like they were mine, or her like she was me, of my parents, and how good it is to have them.
I galloped out of my room, down to the breakfast table. Mom and Dad looked at me surprised as I rushed in.
"Mom, dad, we have a lot to talk about," I said. I was going to also say 'about the wedding.' I wanted to face what I did AFTER Scootaloo had already removed Chrysalis' mind magic.
But instead Rarity gasped first and said, "Sweetie Belle! Your cutie mark!"
I turned around to look at it. Oh yeah... right... heh... that... surrounding my note and heart cutie mark. The new green shield, like Apple Bloom's, like Scootaloo's. A cutie mark changing after a pony gets it? I bet that's gonna make the cutie mark researchers go a little loopy.
"I... had an extra special cutie mark dream?"
Instead of asking if I was a changeling or if I had put make-up on my cutie mark, Rarity hugged me. "Dear, I know I've said it before, but while big sister promises not to smoother you, big sister is still going to be there to protect you and help you, and she'll never teach you anything bad."
"I know you won't!" I hugged her back.
I wasn't surprised when mom and dad joined in the surprise hug too.
Dang. No sign of my wing blades. My braid? What do you think? I'm keeping it! I think it looks good on me.
"Scootaloo!" Dash zoomed in. She zipped up right behind me, and gave me a hug. "I was so worried about you! I mean, since I saw you last night! Not that I thought you were going to sneak out of the house again! But ... well."
"Bad dream?" I asked.
"Started out one... but it became a good one in the end I think, I'll have to thank Princess Luna. But I didn't learn what happened to you. So... I'm... I'm just glad you're okay, squirt... Hey... Scootaloo, have you been sprucing up your cutie mark?"
I looked at my cutie mark... The new red shield around my blue butterfly, that came into being when we saw Apple Bloom get her mark when she saved the world...
"No, I didn't... I think... I think my cutie mark came in two stages or something?"
Dash asked me a couple trick questions to make sure I wasn't a changeling who'd gotten my cutie mark wrong. Once she was sure I was myself, she said, "I knew you were special Scoots! You're something else, and so is your cutie mark! Hope Apple Bloom doesn't get jealous." She grinned.
Then it all clicked. All the saving world stuff was over. So it finally hit me. Apple Bloom's cutie mark... All three of us have our cutie marks now. That means it's time for our Cute-Ceañera, MY Cute-Ceañera. I'm out of time. Pony will think it's TOO WEIRD that my parents aren't there for my cutie mark party... I'm not Diamond Tiara... Ponies would question THAT, right?
"Dash... about my parents... and my Cute-Ceañera... "
Dash's eyes darted about. "Hey squirt... I've got something special for that, no I haven't found them, I'm sorry, I've looked, I really have. But I do have something for that. I promise, you're NOT going to an orphanage, and you're NOT going to some foster home, and you're NOT going back to Cloudsdale, I swear it. But this is something big, and I'd rather tell ya after school."
My eyes widened. "Dash?"
She nuzzled me. "I swear, squirt, I'll be there for ya. I promise, no matter what."
I guess telling Dash I'd magically found out my parents, or one of my parents or grandparents, was a changeling was a little much to tell her right before school too... Now I just needed to figure our a good enough lie for how I figured out I have a changelings in my family tree.
It's... it's really crazy... I never thought about it before... you know how parents talk about what you'd be named if you'd been a colt instead of a filly? I once heard my parents saying that if I'd 'been different' that they'd have named me Horsefly.
Dash flew with me up until where I normally met with Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle. With my red truck hooked up to my scooter. Some things don't change.
Let me hit the fast forward button a little here! We cheered and hugged. We were all super happy to see each other. Ponyville never looked so dang good. All the ponies we saw never looked so good! I never realized how much deep down I really LIKED Ponyville being all cheerful and friendly, yada-yada. Yeah yeah, we realized we all remembered. We figured it was cause were at the center of the change.
"Does that mean... Featherweight and... and Button Mash... that they remember too?" Sweetie Belle asked. "I... didn't have the nerve to look around my bedroom for signs of our friendship, or ask my family about it."
"Maybe," Apple Bloom said. "Ah can't remember everythin' Ah did. In fact, Ah can't remember most of it... there wasn't enough space in my head or somethin'."
Sweetie Belle only smiled and dared to hold onto hope.
"Or it could be that it's because we were linked to you, Apple Bloom, through our cutie marks," I said.
Sweetie Belle frowned a little, so did Apple Bloom. "Hey," Apple Bloom responded.
"Just saying..." I responded kinda meekly. "Girls, about what I told you about my parents, all of it-"
"Yer secret is safe with us," Apple Bloom said proudly. "We promised, didn't we?"
Sweetie Belle nodded. "And don't worry so much about your Cute-Ceañera, ponies don't see things as unusual unless they want them to be or are scared they are. Diamond Tiara's... Diamond Tiara's parents didn't show up to her Cute-Ceañera... and... and none of us questioned it."
None of us could argue with that.
"HEY!" I said. We'd all gone through so much, so fast, that it was taking our heads a while to filter through it all. "SHOULDN'T WE GO TELL TWILIGHT?! About Discord? About Diamond Tiara?! About all of it?! Like right now!?"
Apple Bloom grinned. "Ah already covered it... and we'll be there for when Discord gets his butt kicked, and when Diamond Tiara's knocked back to her senses!"
Sweetie Belle raised a hoof like she was in class. "But isn't the issue with all this celebration... that there's NO QUESTION that's a big final battle's coming, no doubt. That kinda puts a downer on this."
I laughed and slapped her playfully on the back. "FORGET THAT! We're gonna hoof Discord his tail, and drag Diamond Tiara back to reality! Apple Bloom's just said she's made sure of that!"
"Discord ain't gonna cause any trouble until the last rodeo."
I asked. "Cause you had 'em sent through a time space warp so he'll appear right when Dash and the others are aiming their Elements right at 'em?"
"No... Ah didn't need to. Ah just made it so they can't run away no more 'till this rodeo starts. Ah made it a 'set point in time' as best as Ah can explain it, meanin' even Discord can't figure out a way outta it. It's GOTTA happen. They chose themselves not do any evil stuff till the big hoof-fight."
There wasn't surprise on the our faces at this news, there was hope. Sweetie grinned. "Let's count down the days 'till Silver gets Tiara back."
"Not just Silver Spoon, Featherweight, and Tiara's ma and pa too," Apple Bloom said with a smile and a nod.
"Cutie Mark Crusaders World Savers, Draconequus Catchers, And Bully Reformers! WHOO-HOO!!!" We cheered and gave each other a high hoof.
= Beep Beep Beep - Schnuffel Bunny, CMC Remix http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hnqz9OdZjRQ =
"BEEP BEEP BEEP!" I sang as I drove my friends and I to school. After all the freakiness we’ve been through, YOU CAN'T IMAGINE how wonderful it was just to ride beneath the early morning sun to school through the Ponyville we all knew and loved!
Celestia's sun was shining, Dash and the weather crew were making sure the climate was perfect! Fluttershy was out shopping, smiling and warm but with a little more backbone she's been growing. She just smiled and waved at us without a care in the world carrying a foal sized backet.
I saw Twilight Sparkle welcoming ponies to the Golden Oaks Library. Spike, of course, was still the one who actually found the books they wanted; he very likely knew that library's books better than she did!
Just another happy day.
After wearing our capes non-stop for several days, it was actually a little bit refreshing not having to feel them on our backs, and knowing we were safe without them.
And there wasn't any fog in sight!
Then Pinkie Pie pulled herself out of a window at Sugarcube Corner and waved at us. "Heeeeey, girls! Got something special for you!" Pinkie Pie doing as only Pinkie Pie can, she managed to toss a trio of cupcakes into the red truck.
"Those are special Thank You For Saving The World cupcakes!" She stage-whispered with an over-the-top wink. "Hope you enjoy!"
It was Pinkie Pie. Why the heck should we be surprised?!
Each cupcake was frosted differently; the icing looking like Toola-Roola, Starsong, and Hana-Looloo's cutie marks.
... Lookin' around at the real Ponyville... seein’ it somehow more alive and bright than it'd been before...?
Ah remember, there was somethin' that wouldn't let me erase what happened with Ruby and Sunny Town a thousand years ago... it had somethin' to do with Doctor Whooves and Fluttershy and Fluttercruel, but Ah can't remember anythin' else.
Ah tried to make it so Princess Gaia, not Nightmare Whisper mind you, resurrected the Sunny Town ponies as foals so they could live their lives right this time. And could even be attendin' school since Nightmare Whisper's fog.
But... Ah know this sounds strange... but... even with all the stuff Ah did? Ah felt like Ah'd be steppin' on... this is hard fer me to say... that Ah'd be steppin' on all the hard work all of them, yes, even Grayhoof, had been doin' with Fluttershy and the rest to accept... to accept what they did to Ruby was wrong and they were wrong so they could finally move on so Ruby could move on too... Yeah... and them acceptin' what they... what they tried to do to ME was wrong! Ugh!
We ponies have worked long and hard for this world we have, where friendship trumps brute force, where love trumps paranoia and hate. Even with all the power Ah had... Ah remember that Ah couldn't just GIVE IT to everypony no matter how hard Ah tried. And even if Ah could, it'd not MEAN anythin'.
Ah remember... just a tiny bit... that mare who hated cutie marks... she... she's gonna be the one to finally free Sunny Town and help 'em move on.
But...Ah did change it so Ruby...Ruby wasn't burned alive when she died, that came after...that was too dark. Not that there are any nice ways to die... And that how they looked while cursed was just part of the curse, not from Nightmare Moon burin' THEM tah death.
And that's when we spotted St. Sweetheart's Memorial Hospital, yep, still called that, not Ponyville General Hospital.
Contrary to popular beliefs, inheriting a magical healing touch from your ancestor did not automatically make you a qualified doctor or nurse.
More than a few ponies were puzzled how Nurse Redheart, with her gift, wasn't a doctor. They didn't understand that doctors and nurses had DIFFERENT responsibilities; and one wasn't an 'inferior' version of the other. This included Applejack.
"Beggin' yer pardon Redheart, but why do ya need to know all that with yer fancy-schmancy magic?" She asked her first aid teacher.
Redheart had accept her question maturely, it wasn't the first time she'd been asked.
"I have my limits, Applejack. If I use too much of my gift, I get exhausted and keel over. And I have to know WHAT I'm healing. I can't just tell a pony 'be better.' Thus, I need to examine my patients."
For some reason, Applejack had looked herself in the eyes with a nearby mirror, then said, "Yeah, Ah get what ya mean."
The Hearts all had a good relationship with the hospital's fully filled and funded medical staff, and their gift was simply another tool brought to the table to help sick and injured ponies. Redheart had to sadly explain to small foals the LIMITS of her gift that no, she couldn't make grandma 'wake up' from her 'hibernation' come spring. But those came with being a doctor one way or another, and Redheart was proud of the good she did! And she did plenty! And she was proud to be part of a herd itself at the hospital, along with her little sister Tenderheart, Sweetheart (name after their ancestor), Doc Top, Nursery Rhyme, Snowheart, and Glitter Glide.
Mayor Mare woke up in her bed, to find out her nightmare of being a sex sadist and worse had indeed been just a nightmare, nothing more. Even as she reflect on this, the details of the nightmare faded, and Mary Mare was grateful to be rid of them.
She hugged and kissed her husband, Robert Rules, in bed next to her. And the moment she arrived at the office she gave a hug and kiss to her daughter Fair Ruling, and Fair's husband Free Enterprise, followed by one for Mary's assistant Sarah 'Raven' Tailin.
"Raven," Mayor Mare said to her best friend. "If you want to take that offer from Princess Celestia, you should. Don't worry. I'm proud that you'll be able to do good in Canterlot."
"... Thanks Mary."
Sarah Tailin and Mayor Mare however did have one last major political event to help plan out. While Princess Luna had indeed already said so during their nightmares the night before, Princess Luna decided to hold a public announcement during the daytime.
There she announced yes, the Nightmare Force entity that had 'possessed' Princess Luna and Fluttershy had been a great work of tabloid writers, and only existed as rumors. It was not as shocking an event as it should have been, as everypony in their heart of hearts had already forgiven them in their dreams last night. That was one part of their dreams that was crystal clear.
Mary and Sarah had agreed that it was a good hurrah to close Sarah's job at Ponyville at before taking her new admin position in Canterlot. Pinkie Pie had dropped off some strawberry cake free of charge as a going away present. The family and friends shared it together.
Lilly, Roseluck, and Daisy had decided to take a day off work, and instead do a run through Whitetail Woods, happy for just the joy of being alive and healthy, and that each day was a blessing.
Berry Punch lovingly hugged her filly, Ruby Pinch, before Ruby headed off to school. If she'd raised a foal as well as Ruby, then she must have done something right.
"I'm not a drunk," she said proudly. She looked at one of her wine bottles. "You have no power over me." She really needed to get together with Cheerilee and Cherry Blossom sooner than later. She began to write a letter.
Now that 8-Bit had more time to spend at home, Gizmo had chosen to visit his friend more often. Heck, maybe next they could get together with Gaffer and Shining Armor. With Gizmo's technical knowledge, 8-Bit's knowledge of game mechanics, and Gaffer's imagination, and Shining Armor's connections, they could bring their game ideas to everypony in Equestria!
Aloe and Lotus, the twin spa ponies of Ponyville, had taken note that their business was steadily rising. Ponyville was slowly changing from a little town in the shadow of Canterlot to a major landmark. The return of Princess Luna, the defeat of Discord, ponies were always beyond determined to just continue to live their lives regardless of happenstance, but with all that had happened, and Equestria's NATIONAL HEROES living here... it was no surprise that Ponyville's tourist trade and population were both on the up-rise.
The twins' nightmare of being witches who bathed in the blood of ponies and enslaved their souls was over. The twins marched the halls of their spa before opening, taking it in. This was THEIR spa, THEIR hard work, their effort, the one ponies came to unwind and renew themselves. There was a difference between taking pride IN something, and being prideful of YOURSELF, after all.
They had already brought in their cousin Vera for extra help. But now it was time to call in more of the family and see if anymore were interested in moving to Ponyville.
Vera's sister, Scented Candles, had shown interest in moving to Ponyville. And there was another cousin, who unlike the rest of them who were Earth Ponies, this green stallion was a unicorn.
But it would take time for their family to get here, and to get settled in. But they had already hired a weight lifter pegasus who said he wanted to make a good example to his family. His cutie mark name was Bulk Biceps. While intense, and needing to learn to use doors instead of walking through walls, he was nice enough and knew how to do a good massage.
As Scootaloo took me and Sweetie Belle past the spa, Ah remembered a little bit. The Asylum didn't need as much staff now, with lots of ponies getting the help they needed. And Bulk Bicep wasn't as much of a jerk, that wasn't really my doing (Ah was changing rules and events, free will was still a thing), Ah think his new friends just had a good influence on 'im.
"Were you really hanging out with Note Worthy last night?" Bon Bon asked Lyra Heart Strings.
"He's just a friend, Bon Bon." She smiled. "You'll always be my number-one, absolute, through the sick times, and the poor times, healthy times and rich times, best friend forever." She hugged her and nuzzled her.
"That's... that's good... sorry, I was being silly for a bit, I was worried you were..." Bon Bon laughed. "Okay, even I admit it's dumb now. I thought you were going might have wanted to... upgrade... I'm the country mare. You're the gifted unicorn."
Lyra kissed her on the forehead. "And that doesn't mean a thing for the two of us or our family. I'm proud to be with you."
Silver Spanner, otherwise known as Quick Fix, finished tightening up some bolts on her latest contraptions he couldn't wait to show off to Gizmo (they were just friends Celestia dammit!). She then looked at Mjolnir, holding Mjolnir.
"So you're telling me, I didn't just dream us fighting a whole horde of monsters Mjolnir?"
"Aye, and please, call us Thor."
"Right. So does this mean you're going to start beating up monsters again?"
The earth pony mare with the light and hammer cutie mark looked at the similar hammer before her that only the Worthy could wield. "Nay, I have been born upon this world to enjoy a respite... and I know Sif is waiting for me."
"Thank you, I love the smell of your flowers, June Bug."
"Thank you, that's delicious, I mean, wonderful for you to say."
Moth, still in her preferred form as Bon Bon's twin whispered in June Bug's ear. "You don't have to hide what you are anymore."
June Bug gasped as Moth smiled at her and trotted away. June Bug thought, 'Maybe it is time I stop hiding.'
Word Of Her Majesty Princess Celestia
Allow me to briefly take over narrative duties from sweet Apple Bloom, dears, for there are a few things that are beyond her perception of things, and what memories of her work she was able to hold onto.
I was reading through daily morning reports, and shifting through my own memories of the repairs Apple Bloom had made to the world. While the occasional city/country ponies who still looked down on 'country hicks/city slickers' it seemed weren't going away any time soon, I took GREAT satisfaction of noting that the racist attitudes of the age of the Three Tribes had stayed in the past where they belonged. While there were still misunderstandingss and misconceptions and stereotypes, the idea of any tribe being inherently superior or inferior to any other was gone.
This included Onyx Tiara, who still had enough pain and guilt to deal without that ghost being one of them.
Also, I read a report by an investigative reporter, the earth pony Vendetta Mask was no longer a mad stallion obsessed with conspiracy theories and connecting imaginary dots. All little Apple Bloom had done was given him some perception on the things he had fixated over.
Also, the rampage of Watch D. Wotch's filly, Tick Tock, never happened now. While his filly still survived with a clockwork heart of his own invention, his filly had never gone mad with the loss of her friends, their lives saved instead of lost, and so she had never invented a suit to look like her father, and never kidnapped foals to make them immortal clockwork ponies like her.
This also meant the unicorn Shiny Star had never had a dark encounter with a green stallion (really Tick Tock in the clockwork suit of her father), and never developed her dislike of the color green. She had enough burdens to bear.
Filthy Rich? While he no longer reached the point of sleeping with them, he still dated and charmed many mares who were look alikes to his wife. Shiny Star however had been there to keep him on the straight and narrow as she knew he'd want her to, and as his wife would want her to.
My nephew Blueblood's parents?... If there was one thing Apple Bloom had been determined to avoid, and what I think she'd spent the most time trying to repair, it had been 'meaningless' deaths. That she didn't simply undo the deaths of her own parents is proof that we had indeed chosen wisely. Blueblood didn't need the loss of his parents to become a brat, or to be trapped in a gilded cage as I had been fixated on preparing first Sunset Shimmer and then Twilight Sparkle for saving my sister where I had failed. She was able to give him many extra happy years with them. And now I foresee my nephew proving not just himself a braver stallion than most have given him credit for, but also a much better diplomat than ANY have given him credit for. That wasn't due to anything on little Apple Bloom's part, that talent and ability had ALWAYS been with him.
And there was a stallion in Ponyville, still pouring coffee, and had made new accommodations for changelings and their diet at his shop. Now Fluttershy had not made a very foolish mistake involving her guilt at her mistakes as Nightmare Whisper, thanks to some timely advice from an unexpected source. There was no force in Equestria, even a little filly with a new cutie mark, that could FORCE THEM to become friends. But now they had a better understanding of each other.
... And there was 'Fort' Griffinstone, (more of a capital, than a city-state.) Originally, it had been the beating heart of the Griffin peoples, the crown jewel of their civilization, where the first of their kind had reportedly been uplifted... Then it had become something of a pile, following the loss of their original heads of state and symbols of belief. It had fallen out of memory and favor to the point many questioned if it was still at all independent and some believed it'd been annexed by Equestria years ago. (That it now used Equestrian currency didn't help.)
I wondered why Apple Bloom had directed Gilda to have been born and to have come from there... but I sensed what she'd foreseen, and the good she'd do, and the cultural revolution that Gilda would bring with the help of her friends, ponies and griffin alike (including Greta). Having completed her mandatory tour of duty in the guard first of course.
Lickety Split kissed his mom, also named Lickety Split, goodbye, as he set off for school. He also hugged and kissed his grandmother, who was now declared stable enough to allowed to live at home instead of at the hospital. Her name was also Lickety Split, NOT Barking Mad! Nurse Redheart had taken over for Fluttershy for her check-up visits, which was a special good sign for her.
Dr. Frudian Excuse, Dr. Head-Scratcher, and Dr. Hoof Wave, had all been overwhelmingly impressed with her recovery.
Doctor Hooves took a peek out of his time machine. Once, in the former timeline, Dancing Hooves had put a weight around her daughter's neck, and encouraged her to fly over a river in the middle of winter. And she'd madly justified to herself the rest of her life, that Derpy was mentally retarded and crippled and it was kinder for her life to end now instead of let her live a life of nothing but suffering.
Now however, she'd left her child in the woods, letting her play with a bubble blower and told her husband she'd 'wandered off to play' in a completely different part of the forest. At one point the bubble blower had fallen into a river, and Derpy dived after it... holding her breath a long time to retrieve it... where she was found by the unicorn couple who'd give her her adopted name.
"That mare still deserve a hoof in the face," Carrot Top said.
"Maybe," the Doctor said, "But at least now she wasn't an attempted murderer."
"How could ANYPONY do that to their own child and think it's a MERCY?"
"On other worlds, you'd be surprised."
Twilight Sparkle was surprised when she found a note addressed to herself in the lower floor of the library.
"Spike, did you write this?"
"Not me. It was there when I got here."
"Hm." Twilight was left to ponder. It read: 'A time will come soon, Twilight Sparkle, where you will break your word to Princess Celestia for the sake of others.'
Many, many miles away in the far secluded reaches of Equestria, AK Yearling smirked to herself as she began writing her newest book. Her editor and friend Twilight Velvet was likely eager to read about her next adventure. The title was:
'Daring Do And The Mysterious Stranger.'
"Hey, what's that you got there, Spike?" Twilight asked, taking a closer look at a book Spike had in his claws. "'Daring Do and the Sapphire Stone?'"
Spike got down on his knees and wailed. "THEY INFECTED ME! Scootaloo and the others! THEY INFECTED ME WITH THE DARING DO VIRUS! CURSE THEM!"
Twilight Sparkle held back a chuckle.
On the bright side, most ponies still had a hard time recognizing the Wonderbolts without their uniforms. So Spitfire could go around town without being crowded.
"Thanks for coming to see me, Spitfire."
"You're welcome. I wouldn't do it for just anypony, Princess Celestia's not the only pony with a busy schedule," Spitfire smirked.
"I knew you thought highly of me." Rainbow Dash grinned. Tank floating over her shoulder.
'Rainbow Dash certainly has a lot of drive, gonna have to trim down that ego a little, but that's par the course with Wonderbolts.' Spitfire remembered her nightmares last night, vague, and distant. But she did remember, hating Rainbow Dash in the name of petty revenge and hurting those she cared about just to hurt her.
"Rainbow Dash," Spitfire said. "I just want you to know, while I might do things for the good of the Wonderbolts as a team, and while I have to be your CO and not your friend when and if you're in the uniform... That doesn't mean I don't appreciate our friendship. And I'd be proud of to have you as one of us. And I'm even more proud of being friends with you."
Rainbow Dash look in awe. "Whoa... thanks... that... that means a lot."
"I figured it might. So what was this big event you wanted to pitch to me?"
"Oh! Well! It's not really about the Wonderbolts, per se, I just figured they might help make it a lot more awesome. Me and the other weather pegasi have been talking about it, and we've been petitioning Cloudsdale's Rainbow Factory to have a Foals' Day. Ya know, pizza, and fun. That... that old mares' tale I think needs to be put to rest. This won't stop parents when telling their foals, but I think it'll help set the pace. And let foals know that weather work is something to be proud of, not that I'm giving up on becoming a Wonderbolt of course-"
"Trust me Rainbow Dash, I'd never think that." Spitfire smirked again.
"-but we oughta dispel those bogeymares if you asked me and Flitter and Blossomforth, Cloudchaser, Open Skies, Clear Skies, Fluffy Cloud, Medley, Sunshower, Doc' Atmosphere, Orange Swirl Rainbow Shine, Sassaflash, Raindrops, Hoops, Score, and Dumb-Bell!"
Spitfire waved her hooves. "I'm on with it! I'll talk it over with the Princess! I'm sure she'll approve! And I think a Best Young Flyers' Champ would do some good there too!"
"You know it!"
It was weird for Trixie. She'd only gotten home yesterday, and she wasn't due back to Ponyville for a few more days, but already she was feeling like she'd spent days or more at home.
Still, she was a show pony, she couldn't stay in one town forever, but she was going to spend time with her family. Plus she had now the publicity and reputation of having helped save all of Equestria from the changeling invasion, AND having fought one on one with Twilight Sparkle, Celestia's student herself, AND having performed at the reception of Princess Cadence's wedding. She didn't need to invent tall tales anymore to entertain ponies.
Thankfully, news paper clippings and a receipt with Princess Cadenza's royal sigil on it made sure none thought she was just back sliding. Trixie did indeed want to prove on her own abilities she was a good show mage, and magic user. (Racism having been erased or not, Trixie still suffered from classmates who noticed a blank flank among their numbers who while never failing at anything, also never excelled at anything, who was neither powerful enough to be a flaunt it, nor lacking-in-pride enough to be a hanger-on.)
But Trixie was not Rarity nor Twilight or any of her friends. As an ENTERTAINER, if she could get more commissions by mentioning she'd helped save the Equestria, then more advertisement.
Marcie Pan & Fawn Doo weren't sure why they'd decided to take a vacation to Ponyville, of all places. Sure they made a killing here every year during the annual snack-cart-meet, but while this place was home to the Elements of Harmony, there wasn't much in the way of tourist trade with the monster infested Everfree Forest always just visible in the distance (or so the sisters thought). It had only one motel. But at least it was cheap.
"You could just go with me to the Equestrian Geological and Gemological Society convention," Marcie Pan said. The two were not in their normal dresses, since nudity was the preferred style in Ponyville.
"Sis, I love you, but I am NOT going with you to EGGS and sit around listening to ponies talk about rocks!"
"Ah phooey. Maybe we could try and get our membership in the Equestrian Lollipop Guild restored. We have enough cash now to pay our frees."
As the sisters chattered, three foals the sisters naturally didn't know came skipping past on the way to school. It was Shady Daze, his little sister Sunny Daze, and her best friend Peachy Pie (no direct relation to Pinkie Pie). Sunny and Peachy's bad dream faded with the shine of the morning light, though they DID remember the part of their dream where they got to meet Daring Do and Countess Coloratura!
Shady Daze just knew his dream was WEIRD!
Then... he stopped in his tracks.
"Hey, Shady, what's the holdup?"
"I'll... be right there, sis... Go on ahead."
Peachy and Sunny looked at each other, normally it was Shady who got there before them, but they complied.
The sisters and the little colts looked at each other in confusion and awe, not sure why they were even feeling what they were feeling.
"Uh, hi," Shady said. Not talking to strangers wasn't something foals in Ponyville rarely needed to be taught, not because they already knew it, but because such caution was hardly warranted.
"Hi, kid," said Marcie Pan.
"Uh," Shady wasn't sure what to say, or why he was even saying it, but it felt, felt right. "You two new to Ponyville? Welcome."
"Oh we've been here before, and we're just visiting," Fawn Doo said. Had she seen this kid before? ... In her dreams? "What's your name kiddo?"
"Nice to meet you," said the pink mare with the blond mane and curls. "I'm Fawn Doo, and this is my sister Marcie Pan."
Shady Daze scratched the ground with his hoof. "Uh, I have'ta go, it's school time. But, I hope you have a good time here in Ponyville."
"Hey wait!" Marie Pan said and took out three PheNOMNOMenons from her bag. "For you and your sister and her friend."
Marcie Pan should have questioned how she knew the two fillies were his sister and her friend... but felt it wasn’t THAT weird.
Fawn Doo meanwhile should have felt confused at her sister's generosity without even saying what the treats were... but it wasn't a free sample... it felt like a gift, to a friend.
"Thanks! Have a good day!"
"You too," Fawn Doo whispered, the sisters waved Shady Daze off.
Maud Pie woke up to any other day on the rock farm. She remembered Princess Luna's public confession in the dream world, and good for her Princess, but that didn't change what Maud Pie had to do today that she planned to do yesterday.
It was a bit before dawn, but for farmers, even rock farmers, this was par the course.
She'd had some very odd dreams. One had her in a power-lifter armor fighting a giant black bug trying to hurt a little yellow filly. Another had her as a ninja pizza girl with a rival ninja pizza place who both had a delivery to make at an office that unfortunately had also been holding a pirate convention. Another had her sister as a clown fish and herself as a rock fish. Then one where her family had all been clowns, herself being the only one not wanting to be a comedian. One where she'd been mission control for six mares who went around the world in their flying machines saving ponies from disasters. One had her a super hero who could defeat anything in one buck, her sister was Filli-Second. The next was her as an android with an interest in birds. Yet another had her as a hairless ape where everyone wore clothes all the time, and she was study geology in collage while her sister was in high-school. The penultimate as herself as the excited one of the family and LOVED rock music, while her sister was the no-nonsense mare with an ironically unhealthy fixation on health-food. And her last dream had been doing last night's dinner with her family in reverse.
Maud Pie did give a brief glance at the empty beds nearby, one that had been Pinkie Pie's, and that they had given to Trixie when she'd worked here. No matter what others said of her, Trixie was a good worker. Maud wondered what happened to her, it had been just before Discord's rampage. Discord had stuck her in a Mareth Vader costume while turning her parents in crazy new age retro 'organic farming' hippies. The Pairing Stone (said to be the heart of a Mountain King) had told Discord he'd be a father soon and should do the honorable thing if he wished to avoid a horrible fate. Discord had teleported away. At least he'd done nothing to Holder's Boulder except listening to it with a stethoscope.
Maud Pie, did her normal morning routine, got dressed, and went downstairs. Maud Pie didn't think about the grayness of the rock farm, or how comfortable and peaceful it was to her, this had been her home all her life after all. She didn't think about how she didn't care for bright colors, candies, or over-the-top celebrations, or what an utter contrast it was to her little sister, that's how it had been for decades.
She found five bowls of rock soup waiting in the dining room, with her parents.
"Good morning," She said in her monotone.
Cloudy Quartz and Igneous Pie looked surprised at the sight of her. Her mother took a step back. Her father said in his polite and formal tone. "Who might be ye yonder maiden, our house is always open to guests, but it preferable that they introduce themselves first before being allowed inside."
Maud Pie's expression didn't change, but she felt confusion swirl inside her. But she went along with her father's quest. "My name is Maudaline Nancy Pie. I'm your first born foal. I live here."
Her parents stared at her blankly for a few seconds before saying.
"Forgive me, mine daughter, seems that old age might be finally wearing down this old stone."
"It's alright," Maud Pie monotoned.
Maud Pie glanced and saw six bowls of rock soup on the table, that was weird, but she brushed it off, after having Pinkie Pie for a sister, she'd learned that sometimes with the strange it was best to just roll with it. She idly wondered for less a moment who else had days like this.
"Hi, mom! Hi, dad!" Said a teal pegasus with a five o'clock shadow.
"Oh!... I'm sorry... but... we aren't looking to adopt right now..."
"That ain't funny! I'm just between jobs! I know I don't look that much of a wreck! It's me! Zephyr Breeze!"
The two older ponies stared at him for a few seconds, as a new pony appeared in family photos.
Posey The Nth looked abashed. "OH! I'm so sorry dear! I'm just tired!"
"Oh, come on in, idiot."
Limestone Pie practically stormed downstairs, but that was normal for her. If Pinkamena seemed a wellspring of happiness, Limestone seemed a wellspring of rage. Though Maud Pie knew all of them had their limits, including herself. But no Pie sister was self-serving in those feelings. With Maud’s plans to move to college, and three sisters having left, this made Limestone the eldest daughter left on the rock farm, and she had no intention of shirking off her responsibilities.
"HEY! WHO ARE YOU?! HOW DID YOU GET IN HERE?! If you're a new work hand that somepony sure forgot to tell me about!"
"Limestone. It's me. Maud Pie? And that is no way to speak to your big sister," Maud said simply without a trace of admonishment in her voice.
"I!.... AGH! Dangit! I need food! It's what I get for staying up late!"
Marble Pie slipped in last... she gave a small gasp seeing Maud Pie... said nothing, but then said slowly. "Good morning big sister."
"Good morning, Marble."
Cloudy Quartz and Igneous Pie each dreamt last night of being alone at the farm, all their children having left, leaving them with no heirs But Maud Pie came to fill that void. Now that dream was fading fast to be forgotten as many dreams are. While half of their daughters had left the farm, half of them had not. It was actually a purposeful tactic of the rock farming clans NOT to forcibly keep family members on the farm. Once it became a choice, rather than a rule, most chose to remain home.
Inky, Blinky, and Pinkamina had left the farm and changed their names after getting their cutie marks.
Maud Pie had been their first, then Inky, then Blinky, followed by the triplets. The Apples were hardly the only large farm family. Limestone Pie had come out first practically fighting her way out of her mother's womb, followed by Pinkie Pie effectively bouncing out, and followed by Marble Pie who had seemingly needing coaxing to come out.
Photo Finish finished dressing. It was another circus day in the cut-throat fashion business in Canterlot. While Photo Finish knew Rarity had saved the world, that didn't translate into her being a good business woman or a good fashion designer, but credit where it was due for having an exclusive contract with Sapphire Shores and making a huge social splash. Time would tell if she was able to expand her company like she planned to.
Rarity had also had the guts to talk about being a country girl, while Photo... well, she wasn't ashamed of her sisters. She just preferred to keep her personal life and her business life separate, thank you very much.
"Hey, 'Tavi! Thanks for splitting the rent like this!"
Octavia winced at the nickname but kept her calm. "I suppose this is quite the upgrade from the shack you were living in before," Octavia said.
"Hey! The shack was cool! But yeah! Now I don't have to keep my records and equipment in storage!"
Octavia silently admitted, the house was an upgrade from the apartment she rented in Canterlot too. Though ALL of her friends told her she was crazy for wanting to move to PONYVILLE when she already had a home in Canterlot!
The retail agent who sold them the house said that the value of land in Ponyville was going to only continue sky rocket with how Celestia's little Chosen Ones had made their stay here, and Octavia was getting in on the ground floor.
There was also when she'd first been scoping out the house, she'd spotted a red stallion of few words, gentle as a kitten, stronger than a Yak, and whose polite manner was a part of him rather than a social mask. 'Who is that handsome devil?' Was her first thought, realizing to her shock that she was blushing was her second.
The house was empty right now, and the paper work hadn't been filled out quite yet, but all of those were formalities at this point.
"So, Tavi', what do you say we have this wall here painted hot neon pink?"
"I.. was thinking more a calm pastel blue, myself, Vinyl."
Octavia and Vinyl Scratch spent several hours debating on the decor... before they drew a chalk line right down the middle of the living room, and that was that. They'd contact the interior decorators and carpenters later, even if both rejected their idea for a wall.
In Cloudsdale, a blond pegasus colt with a triangle cutie mark, and a green pegasus filly with an emerald cutie mark, nuzzled each other and enjoyed the sunrise over Cloudsdale.
Next to them, Caramel, with help of a cloudwalking spell, sat with Sassaflash, doing the same.