Prologue: Of PipBucks and Cutie Marks
If I’m going to tell you about the adventure of my life -- explain how I got to this place with these people, and why I did what I’m going to do next -- I should probably start by explaining a little bit about PipBucks.
What is a PipBuck? A PipBuck is a device, worn on a foreleg just above the hoof, issued to every pony in a Stable when they become old enough to start work. A blending of unicorn pony magic and science, your PipBuck will keep a constant measure of your health and even help administer healing poultices and other medicine, track and organize everything in your saddlepacks, assist in repairs, and keep all manner of notes and maps available at a hooftap. Plus, it allows you to listen to the Stable broadcast whenever you would like as it can tune into and decrypt just about any radio frequency. And that’s not all. A pony’s PipBuck generates an E.F.S. (Eyes-Forward Sparkle) that will indicate direction and help gauge whether the ponies or creatures around you are hostile. And, perhaps most impressively, a PipBuck can magically aid you in a fight for brief periods of time through use of the S.A.T.S. (Stable-Tec Arcane Targeting Spell). Oh, and a feature not to be forgotten: it can keep track of the location of tagged objects or people, including the wearers of other PipBucks. So if a pony somehow got lost -- don’t ask me how you could get lost in a Stable, but it does happen on occasion -- then anypony who knew the lost pony’s tag could find them instantly.
It can even be made to glow like a lamp.
So yes, PipBucks really are a testament to unicorn pony arcane science. And yes, having a PipBuck is a big advantage. So with how wonderful and miraculous all that just sounded, it’s hard to impress upon ponies who never lived in a Stable just how ordinary, how pedestrian, a PipBuck was in the eyes of the ponies living in Stable Two. And why I was disappointed to have one as my cutie mark.
Every pony in Stable Two had a PipBuck. All that stuff I mentioned? Most ponies don’t use even half of that. They just used it to tune into the Stable broadcast -- listened to the sweet, sweet voice of Velvet Remedy in the evenings or the latest school singing competitions during the day. The Stable had two soccer leagues, one which allowed S.A.T.S. and one which prohibited it. Otherwise, most ponies paid their PipBucks almost no attention at all. The Overmare issues each pony their own PipBuck on the day of their Cutie Mark Party -- usually a day or two after you get the mark on your flanks that tells everypony what makes you special, what you’re destined to be good at. Once it shows, the Overmare knows what work to assign you; you know your place in the Stable. So no, I was not thrilled that what made me special was something that everypony had, which was a lot like being told I wasn’t special at all. Sure, getting a PipBuck as my cutie mark could have meant I was destined to become an awesome PipBuck repair filly or something, but in reality it was like getting a cutie mark of a cutie mark.
Didn’t help that I was the last pony to get her cutie mark. Not surprising in retrospect. Kinda tough to find what you’re supposed to be good at when what you’re supposed to be good at is something you don’t get until you’ve found what you’re supposed to be good at. So I tried everything. I even tried to invent new things. As a unicorn pony myself, my innate magics allow me a level of fine manipulation that earth ponies don’t enjoy. Any pony can hold a key in their teeth and open a lock, but using multiple tools in a very delicate operation? That requires precision levitation. So I decided to learn to pick locks with a bobby pin and screwdriver. And I was even getting pretty good at it. Unfortunately, it didn’t get me my cutie mark. It just got me into trouble.
I even, to my humiliation, went through the C.A.T. (Cutie-mark Aptitude Test) in the hopes it would guide me to what made me special. But no. My C.A.T. was utterly average, with only marginally higher scores in a couple areas, indicating that I might be suited for work as a PipBuck Technician or a Stable Loyalty Inspector. Two options, I should note, that were even less impressive when you considered that it was generally expected that unicorn ponies would go into either technical or administrative work. That is, except the unicorn ponies who are natural artists, like Velvet Remedy. As I said before, our inherent magic allows us the sort of fine manipulation that technical work demands. Likewise, the Overmare and her government were always unicorn ponies. It is the Overmare’s unicorn magic, after all, that creates the false sunlight used to grow our underground apple orchard. And while our apples might not look like those beautiful red things in the old books, they are what keep us alive.
It was only because they let me try my hooves at both positions that I gained access to a PipBuck before receiving my own, otherwise I might never have gotten my cutie mark.
Oh, my name is LittlePip. Go figure. I was given the name because I was the youngest and the smallest, and even my mother had the good sense not to call me “Pipsqueak.” (Not that I don’t love her, but when a filly’s cutie mark is a glass of hard apple cider...) Anyway, funny how names like that turn out sometimes.
Pleased to meet you. Here is my story…