The Filly Within

by Detsella Morningdew


Chapter 2: Rain and Fire

Sweetie Belle looked at the flaming wreckage.

"Well, that was a colossal failure."

Fortunately, Apple Bloom had the foresight to have them test all the sap in the middle of the rock quarry, rather than, say, in the forest. Or anywhere near Ponyville.

Lighting the sap on fire (from a distance, of course), only seemed to do just that - light it on fire. Only when the sap droplets were extremely small did they do anything like explode.

Apple Bloom had managed to make it more flammable with some potion-making equipment she borrowed from Zecora, but the air around it made them feel funny, so they scrapped that idea quickly.

It was a firestarter. Nothing they did to it made it anything else.

Well, that wasn't entirely true. Scootaloo found that when a stick was dipped in it, it became a crude torch.

A quick modification (some cloth scraps provided by Sweetie) made something they all deemed adventure-worthy.

All in all not really a failure, just not what they were trying for.

No, the colossal failure was when one of their experiments got to the other barrels of sap.

That got the explosion they wanted, though not exactly the kind they wanted. Flaming balls of sticky liquid shot all over the place.

It was a surreal experience. Time seemed to slow down for Sweetie. Scootaloo was at a safe distance, but Apple Bloom was the one working with the stuff, and several sticky balls of flame were heading towards her. Without even thinking, Sweetie kicked off the quarry floor with a strength she didn't know she had.

She got there right in time, tackling her friend out of the air, grabbing her close and gritting her teeth as she skidded across the stony ground.

It was a few moments before Sweetie even thought to release her grip. All around them were small little fires, which were quickly fading away as their fuel was exhausted.

"Apple Bloom? Scootaloo? Are you okay?"

Apple Bloom still hadn't gotten up, but she nodded.

"Scootaloo?"

"Y-yeah. I'm fine."

Sweetie looked for the source of her voice. She had a blank look on her face, just staring at the remains of the barrels.

"Are you sure?"

She quickly shook her head, adopting a much more sure expression. "Yeah. That was just... a lot worse than when we got those fireworks."

Sweetie followed her eyes, looking at the wooden wreckage, the only part of the quarry still flaming.

"Well, that was a colossal failure."

Apple Bloom got slowly to her hooves, rubbing a few sore spots. But she wasn't looking at any of her bruises. She was looking at Sweetie curiously, and an odd element of respect.

"What?"

Apple Bloom paused. "Let's talk about all of this in the next Crusader meeting. We need to clear this up before somepony sees the smoke. If anypony finds out about this, we're gonna be grounded for more than just two weeks."

"Right." Scootaloo grinned awkwardly.

Sweetie sighed. "This was so stupid. Sorry, girls."

Apple Bloom put a hoof on her shoulder. "Nopony got hurt, and that's what matters." She winced slightly. "Well, nopony got more than a few bruises. Still, it wasn't a complete waste. Now we can all go try for our spelunking cutie mark with Scoots' torch.

"Now we really need to clean all this up, and fast."

The wood was still burning quite merrily.

"You wouldn't happen to know, like, a water spell or something?"

Sweetie Belle groaned. "No. I'm, like, the worst unicorn in our year. I can barely even get a flicker on my horn."

Apple Bloom suddenly looked guilty. "Sorry about that, Sweetie. I really don't know anythin' about unicorn stuff. I can just go get a bucket of water. There should be a nice river near the quarry. Don't worry about it."

"I know you didn't mean anything about it, just..." She sighed. "It's frustrating, you know?"

Scootaloo gave her a sidelong glance. "...Yeah."

"Oh."

Apple Bloom cleared her throat. "Enough of this. This little project failed, but what have we really lost? Nothing. We didn't even get sap on us this time."

"Fortunately."

"Yeah. Now, I'm going to get that bucket of water. Sweetie, I know you know where all my alchemy stuff goes, so if you could get that packed up for me, that would be great. Scootaloo, you go grab all the torches you made and all those cloth scraps we didn't use. When you're all done, we'll all meet at the clubhouse. And please try to be quick. I don't know if anypony already saw the smoke.

"So, everypony good? Let's break."


The sun was low in the sky when Sweetie finally returned to the clubhouse, mostly from trying to avoid being seen with Apple Bloom's alchemy set. Completely aside from her poor reputation with anything even loosely related to cooking, she was more worried about the questions ponies might ask. She didn't exactly have a good cover story.

But she got there without incident, and was relieved to find that her two friends were already waiting for her. Nopony got busted.

"Sorry for being late, girls. I was trying to avoid Rarity. Or anypony that might ask the wrong questions."

Apple Bloom put a hoof over her face. "Sorry, Sweetie. I should have just told you to leave it for me to pick up."

"So what's the meeting going to be about? This wasn't a cutie mark mission. And I kinda need to get home soon, before Rarity gets mad."

Scootaloo also turned to her friend. She had been sitting in the clubhouse for far too long for comfort already. "Yeah, what is it about?"

Apple Bloom hesitated for a moment. "Well, first, I'd like to thank you, Sweetie. That was some damn quick thinking. But... I just wanted to make sure ya know. You're a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for. A lot faster, too, come to think of it."

"What do you mean?"

She pointed to her chest, where a nasty bruise was growing. She held up a hoof to stop Sweetie from apologizing. "I've had a lot worse. And it's better than if any of that sap stuff got me. But that kick was almost as hard as my big sister. If I ever thought unicorns were weak, you definitely cured me of that."

Sweetie picked one of her front hooves off the ground, looking at it intently. She wasn't muscular by any means, and she certainly had a few bruises on her back from rolling on the ground. Rarity wasn't going to be happy with her, whatever story she gave. But seeing Apple Bloom, she had a hard time believing that she caused it.

"Don't worry about it Sweetie. Granny used to always tell me stories of ponies in danger doing some pretty crazy stuff. I used to think they were all just hooey, but it just seems like they were right. I mean, just look at Rainbow Dash. Both times she did that Rainboom of hers, she was trying to help somepony."

Scootaloo buzzed her wings in irritation. "Hey, let's not get too crazy. Rainbow can totally do the Rainboom on her own."

Apple Bloom rolled her eyes. "Anyway. It's getting late. See you all at school tomorrow?"

"Sure."

"Kay."

"And as always, if you have any cutie mark ideas, make sure you write them down for the next meeting. This time might have not been a proper crusade, but we certainly aren't going to just give up."

Sweetie nodded, and turned to leave, but her mind wasn't even registering Apple Bloom's speech. Sure, it was probably just adrenaline, but even afterwards, her legs weren't even sore. It was like that crazy tackle hadn't even happened. Her bruises still hurt a little, but even those seemed muted.

And something just felt off about the whole thing.

But it was a school morning tomorrow. She didn't have the time to think about it. And she still needed to come up with a story for Rarity to explain all the bruises on her back.