Five Score, Divided by Four

by TwistedSpectrum


27. Honesty.

Chapter 27: Honesty

I finish eating my snack and head to the kitchen to wash off my orange hooves. Dash told me she would meet me by the chicken coop in half an hour. I should probably start heading out there.

I trot out the front door and pause as I see a white mare on the patio, moving some decorations around with her magic. She looks up at me and smiles. “Applejack, so glad to catch you. Is it alright if I add some more color to this patio?”

I trot closer and check out her work, which immediately amazes me in the detail. She tied small red ribbons on the wooden stakes and had moved the rose pots to complement the colors. “Jeez Rarity, that looks pretty good considered how little you have to work with.” I peer at one of the tiny ribbons. “How did you even tie these? I couldn’t make something that fine using fingers.”

The mare blushes slightly, “That's magic for you. While Shining and Twilight seem to be more skilled at brute force with their horns, mine seems weaker, but more tuned to doing fine crafts and meticulous handiwork.” She shrugs. “It has its uses.”

I chuckle. “I’d say so, that sounds amazing for repairing some of the machines around here. There’s so much stuff in our shed that we can’t use, but we could fix if we only had some way to operate a fine screwdriver or something.”

Rarity beams, “I’m really more than happy to help, I feel I need to work my fair share to help maintain this place.” She waves a hoof at the land. “It’s truly a fantastic plot of land. Did your parents own this?”

My smile instantly fades. “Yeah, they did, when they were alive.”

“Oh.” Rarity’s ears go soft. “I’m sorry.”

I shake my head. “Nah, don’t worry about it Rarity, it was decades ago. How about you? Your folks still around?”

She purses her lips. “Yeah, about that.”

I raise an eyebrow, “Something the matter? Are they okay?”

 Rarity bites her lip. “They’re around alright, and they’re probably wondering what happened to their son. Well, their son left, and she is now two thousand miles away and not looking back.” Rarity sighs, “The last time I spoke with them they didn’t recognize my voice, then my mom hung up on me...”

I notice her eyes get a bit watery, and I take a step closer to hug her. “I can’t even imagine what that’s like Rarity. Your own mother not knowing you, and just leaving them behind? You gotta contact them Rarity, tell them something.”

She nods and pulls back from the hug. “For sure, I’ll send them emails or something, it’ll be okay.”

I give her a reassuring smile. “This is just for a little while Rarity. We’ll fix this. We’ll find a way to change back and return to our real lives.”

Rarity nods. “That would be nice.”

~~~~~~~

“What sort of weight can you lift with that thing?” Mac gestures at my forehead. “You’re this special alicorn, right? Do you have like, super powers with that?”

I look up, past my purple bangs, and smile for a moment as I look at my horn. “My magic can lift quite a bit actually, though it depends on how hard I concentrate.”

Mac gives an approving smile. “So if you focus all zen mode you can lift a house?”

I chuckle. “Not quite that much. I mean, if I’m in the middle of talking to someone I can lift small rocks or pencils and stuff no problem. And if I really sit there and fully focus, then I can lift, oh I don’t know, the weight of two or three ponies? I’ve never actually sat down and tried to measure my full capabilities, we’ve always been busy running somewhere or avoiding something. I suppose now that we’re settling down here I can finally try to fully test myself.”

He nods thoughtfully. “Sounds great, we could certainly use a skill like that around here. God knows we have the jobs for it.”

“Such as?”

The stallion is quick to answer. “You know, things that either can’t be easily picked up with hooves, or anything requiring some higher vertical lifting. For example, I was thinking about building a wood fueled heater in our common room. We could really use your help for making the chimney.”

I raise an eyebrow. “You’re kidding, a furnace and chimney, built from scratch? That sounds like a really complicated project. I mean, come on now, you don’t have fingers and your resources are limited to just what’s around here.”

Mac shrugs. “Well, you’d be surprised at what we can get done with what we have. But as for the lack of supplies, well, that’s precisely why we need to build it! We have a full load of diesel and other fuels in our tanks here. But it’s not infinite, and we have no way of resupplying it. I mean, there’s just no way we can make it through the entire winter with our current stores of heating oil.”

I stop in my tracks. “Winter...”

He nods as he walks past me. “Yeah, winter. Trust me, Iowa winters ain't nothing to sneeze at. Even with our fur coats it’s going to get a bit nippy around here. I was thinking a wood fueled furnace would help us through the coldest months, lord knows we have enough wood around here to keep us warm.” Mac stops and looks back at me, noticing I am no longer walking with him. “Twilight? What’s the matter?”

I shake my head slowly. “It’s just, you know, winter. I mean we’re in May right now. We’ve only been ponies for about two weeks and it’s already felt like months. I know we’re stuck like this, but thinking about actually being a pony for all that time, all the way through summer and into winter...”

Mac finishes for me, “And from this year into the next, and on and on. Decades will pass with us stuck walking on all fours. Yeah, it’s a bit unnerving to think about I suppose.” The earth pony studies my face for a moment. “You okay? You wanna talk about it?”

I smile at his kindness. “Thanks, but I think I’m fine. I get a little nervous thinking about the future, but I think I’m pretty accepting of it.”

“Well, that’s good. The sooner we accept our lives the sooner we can work to make them better.”

I pause, then nod. “Heh, you’re right, and it’s a little funny to realize this is how I honestly feel now. For the first time I think I’m feeling pretty good about all this. I am actually looking forward to decades living as a unicorn around here. It’s quiet, I have great friends around me, no worries, and I’ll probably learn so much about my magic over years and years of practice. Life will stay interesting, that’s for sure.”

Mac chuckles at my last line, “Yep, you can say that again.”

~~~~~~~

“Okay Shining, keep yourself together. Just be cool, just be cool.” I try to calm myself down, but I’m practically giddy with excitement at the thought of meeting Fluttershy. I don’t know why I’m the scared one, I’m the big strong stallion, I should be fearless here. But still, I can’t help but feel like a twelve year old girl going backstage at a music concert of her favorite boy band.

I take a deep breath and I look at Fluttershy’s “cottage”. That term is probably a little generous. From the looks of it, there was an old treehouse in this tree, but at some point in the past the tree fell over. So now there’s a rusted treehouse, on its side, half smashed into the ground. Looks like it’s been cleaned up though, there’s a fresh coat of yellow paint on it, and it's surrounded by flower boxes. The door, still rotated 90 degrees due to the treehouse lying on its side, has its door knob modified. Much like every door on this farm, the doorknob was removed and replaced with a small push bar. It makes sense for the earth ponies here; I can’t even imagine how they would open regular door knobs.

Hmm, should I knock? I don’t want to scare her, I know how shy this mare is going to be. Hmm, maybe I should turn back and go get Dash to introduce us. Yeah, that would probably be--.

“Oh, why hello Shining Armor, nice to meet you.”

I freeze on the spot. In my peripheral vision I see Fluttershy give me a wave, then go back to watering her flowers as she picks up the watering can in her mouth. I open my mouth to say hi to my favorite pony, but no words come out.

        She sets the watering can down, then starts to rearrange some of the flower boxes while humming a tune and bobbing her head to some soft melody. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for dinner last night; I hope you’ll forgive me.” She looks up at me and softly brushes her mane out of her eyes. “Would you like to have some tea with me?”

        “Hnnnng.” I lose the ability to form words.

“I’m sorry, what was that?” Fluttershy tilts her head.

“YesIwouldloveteaplease.” I mumble through a dry mouth.

“Didn’t quite catch that.” Flutters says, grinning wide and clearly holding back laughter.

I facehoof and take a deep breath. “Yes. I would love to have tea with you Fluttershy.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful.” The mare replies, still giggling softly.

I shake my head. “Wow, I really just out-Fluttershy’d Fluttershy, didn't I? I’m never going to live that one down.”

“I won’t tell anyone if you won’t.” She smiles as she turns and walks around her ‘cottage’.

I follow her. “I can’t help but notice you’re not deathly scared of me, you know, a brand new pony.”

We approach a small campfire and Fluttershy carefully puts an iron kettle over the coals. “Why would I be? I know I’m Fluttershy, but I’ve been interacting with hundreds of people for a long time as a human. I’m not a carbon copy of that cartoon character you know.” She closes her eyes and smiles at me. “And besides, Dash came by earlier and told me you were a nice pony, so I have nothing to be scared of.”

I blush. “Oh, well, looks like I owe her a note of thanks I suppose.”

“She spoke highly of you, she said you would do anything to protect your friends.” Fluttershy opens a small wooden box that was lying on a nearby rock. “Do you have a preference for tea? I have chamomile, ceylon, wild mint, strawberries...” The pegasus trails off naming a few other varieties.

I shake my head in amazement. “Whatever you recommend, Fluttershy.”

She looks me up and down. “You seem stressed, I know just what you need.”

I tilt my head. “Stressed? I don’t think I’m that stressed. Well certainly not anymore. Celestia knows I was a few days ago, but things around here are perfectly quiet now. I haven’t been this carefree in ages.”

Fluttershy’s smile fades for a moment. “Yeah, I know what you mean. The days leading up to Dash finding me, and bringing me here...” Her lip quivers for a moment. “Those were not good days.”

I scratch my head with a hoof. “So Dash found and rescued you too, eh? Does she have some plan or something? Why is she bringing everyone here?”

“Oh, no I don’t think Dash did it because she has a plan. She came for me because she was my good friend.” The kettle begins to boil, and the mare starts to take various leaves out of her tea box, followed by some berries. “And the reason she sought you and your friends out, well, that was actually sort of my idea.” The mare blushes.

I tilt my head. “Wait, that was your idea? Well, thanks for that! We didn’t know what to do back there. I’m really grateful you guys found us.”

“Oh, it’s no problem, I’m glad you’re all here now.” Fluttershy stirs the kettle softly, and my nose already picks up an amazing scent.

We sit in silence for a moment as Fluttershy tends to the brewing tea. I clear my throat. “So, do you have a plan then?”

She shakes her head softly, then carefully pours two cups of tea. “I’m sorry, I don’t really know. I was good at thinking about old things and figuring out what happened, but strategy for the future? No, and I think we were all hoping you would be the one to help us with that.”

“Me?” I lean back in confusion. “No, I have no idea what to do, Fluttershy. I mean, I got us in serious trouble back in Seattle. The only reason we're still in one piece is because you sent Dash to save us. If she didn't get there when she did, well, let's just say I'm glad she saved us from our screw up. In any case, I’m not the guy who knows what to do around here.”

She hooves over a mug with tea. “Careful, it’s very hot.”

I take the cup and wait for her to say something about my statement, but she remains silent. “Um, Fluttershy, why did you think I would be the one to know what to do?”

She blows on her tea. “You’re the military leader here. You’re a captain, right? That’s what we are going to need. Strategy and planning, that’s your forte.”

I stammer, “No, I’m not the brains of the operation. My sister is the smart one and Dash is the bold one. I’m just sort of here for the ride.”

She takes a small sip of her tea. “I don’t think so. You sister has the academics, but not the planning. And Dash has the courage, but not the drive. That’s all you Shining. There are only eight of us here, and you’re the best one here for that.”

I stare into my tea and wonder if she’s right about that. A minute or so of silence passes and I’m not sure what to say, so I take my first sip of tea. “Ohhh god.” My eyes roll back in my head as the warm ambrosia flows down my throat. “Fluttershy, this is the best drink I’ve ever tasted.”

She laughs softly and brushes her mane out of her eyes, “Thanks, even as a human I was a bit of a hippie. I loved teas and herbal things, and as a pony I think I’m really getting a knack for understanding them and mixing them just right.”

I take another gulp, burning my tongue in the process but not even caring at this point. “It’s, wow, I could drink this all day. Just sit back in a warm tub, smell potpourri, listen to some Enya, and let the day fade away.”

Fluttershy let’s out a clear laugh, something I don’t recall ever hearing in the cartoon. “Oh Shining, you’re really quite the softie for someone who is supposed to be this strong military leader.”

I chuckle as well. I might as well he honest with her. “Yeah, about that. I sorta was a girl for the last twenty five years.”

Fluttershy raises both her eyebrows. “Oh, my, that would be a strange change. Well, at least you seem to be handling it well. And now you know what’s it like for both sides; that should make relationships easier for you.”

I nod slowly. “I suppose so, but it’s still a bit sad to think I’m never going to be female again.”

Fluttershy’s ears drop a little. “You really think along those lines? You think these pony bodies are here to stay?”

I wave a hoof randomly. “Well, it certainly seems like that’s the case. These are our original bodies after all. Dash and the others seem pretty sure we’re going to spend the rest of our lives on hooves.”

She sighs. “Yeah, I know. What they say makes sense too, it’s just, well, I was hoping Twilight and the rest of you might have had a idea on how to change everything back.”

I shake my head sadly. “I wish we did Fluttershy. I take it you’re not happy with things?”

She looks around. “Well, I wouldn’t say that. Things have been so very relaxing these past few days. I always did feel a bit out of place as a human, no one really understood me. But now, as a pegasus, I really feel at home. All the animals here take care of me, and I have all the time in the world to just enjoy the outdoors.” She rubs a hoof in the dirt awkwardly for a few seconds. “But, I don’t know. I wish we at least had the option to change back. It feels wrong to just give up on everything that we knew. Some of my pony friends seem ready to do that, but, well, I don’t know...”

I rest a hoof on her back. “I feel the same way you do Fluttershy. Don’t worry, we haven’t given up hope yet.”

She smiles with her eyes. “That’s good to hear. Do you have any ideas, anything I can help you figure out?”

I shake my head. “I have no ideas, but my sis is a genius. She’ll solve this for sure! You can always count on Twilight to solve our problems.” Fluttershy raises an eyebrow but says nothing, and I finish my cup of tea. “It might take some time though.”

She nods. “That’s fine, I can wait. I’m making the best of things out here.”

I look around at her little camp area. admiring the work she put into making herself feel at home. “It looks great out here, Fluttershy.”

She thanks me, “You’re welcome to stop by for tea any time.”

I stand to leave. “Awesome, I’ll be taking you up on that offer.”

Fluttershy looks over at me. “Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed the company.”

“Likewise.” I take a step to leave, then pause for a second and think about where I’m headed. Let’s see. I have really nothing planned for the rest of the day, so I guess I can do whatever I want. What sounds the most enjoyable? Where do I want to be?

The yellow pegasus notices my hesitation. “Shining? Are you not sure where to go? Need directions?”

I turn back around, then blush for a moment. “I think I’ve decided. Do you um, need any help around here?”

She chuckles softly. “Of course, I could always use an extra pair of hooves.”

~~~~~~~

“So, Rainbow Dash, what’s Shining like?” AJ gives me a curious glance as we walk about the farm making sure things are in order.

I grin wide. “More questions about the handsome stallion? Damn girl, you won’t let off with the questions about him, will you?”

She blushes, then covers it by bumping me with her shoulder as we walk. “Oh shush, I was just curious, that’s all.”

I smile, but inside I feel a bit sorry for Jack. The narrow male to female ratio here is really a bit unfortunate. I can’t imagine being in Jack’s place, especially if we do end up stuck living on this farm commune for the rest of our lives. Spending a lifetime as a mare, going into heat here and there, and the only stallions of her species are either related to her or already with someone else. Damn, we really do need to find some more ponies and bring them to the farm.

AJ and I crest a hill and I can make out Big Mac and Twilight discussing something down by the pond a few hundred meters away. I gesture at them with a cyan hoof. “Well, I’m glad to see our new arrivals are getting along with you guys. I was a little worried that we might split into cliques, you know, old friends only sticking with old friends.”

AJ nods. “Naw, we’re getting along great with the new ponies, they’re a friendly bunch.” She stops and looks down at the purple mare cuddling up near her brother. “Maybe too friendly.”

I wave a hoof, “No worries. Big Mac is just being friendly, I doubt it’s more than that.”

She gives me a look I’ve never seen before. It’s a mixture of amusement and confidentiality. “Oh? And why would you say that, Rainbow Dash? Do you know something I don't about my brother when it comes to mares and love?”

I laugh nervously, “What? What would I say why?” I realize I tripped on my words, hopefully AJ doesn’t notice. I also hope she can’t see the sweat forming on my forehead.

She smirks. “Mmhmm.”

“So, any ideas on how to find any more humans turned ponies?” Nothing like an abrupt topic change to get out of awkward situations.

My best friend smiles for another moment before resuming our walk. “We’ve been talking about that when you were off in Seattle and what not. We’re still not sure how to find others, or if it’s even a good idea. Have you seen the news recently Dash? You know about the military tension on pretty much every border?”

I bite my tongue. “Yeah, I think I ‘heard’ about that.”

AJ continues, “It’s getting worse out there Dash, things are not going to end pretty. That’s why I’m hesitant on heading out on the limb to find more ponies right now. We need to batten down the hatches until things calm down.”

I glance out at the harvest fields. “Well, at least we have that option now. Our old ‘zombie survival plan’ really did pay out dividends, didn’t it? This place is an impregnable bastion of resources and safety.”

AJ sits back on her haunches and joins me in taking in the view of her livelihood. “Yeah, it sort of is. We made a lot of modifications when you were gone too. Pretty sure you’ve seen them by now. All the doors and sinks are now hoof-friendly.”

“I saw that, solid work AJ.” I take a deep breath of the rural air. “You’ve really done it. Your farm is now a permanent settlement that will keep us safe and fed for our entire lives.”

AJ sighs sadly. “Yeah, we’re ready for anything. We’re settled in for the long haul.”

I notice her ears droop even more. I tilt my head. “But...?”

She sighs again. “We’ve been over this before Dash. You know how I feel about all this, about being stuck as a mare forever. Sure, I’ll admit it, I’m starting to enjoy fur, tail, hooves, and everything else. I mean, hell, I think I even prefer being female at this point in time.”

While I agree with everything she said, it didn’t take a psychologist to see the sorrow sown into her speech. “You’re still not comfortable with the idea of being AJ for the rest of your life.”

“I was a human for so long Dash.” She stops to wipe an eye with a fetlock. “I just don’t know if I can give all of that up. I can’t turn my back on twenty five years of memories, twenty five years of another life. We gotta fix this, somehow.”

I nod, immediately thinking of a dozen counter arguments, but I hold my tongue. Not all disagreements have to be won. “I understand your viewpoint Jack.”

The sound of hoofsteps behind us makes Jack wipe her eyes again and quickly turn around, putting on a fake smile in the process. I wave at the visitors. “Shining, Fluttershy, how are things?”

“Wonderful,” Fluttershy remarks.

“Yeah, we had a nice chat.” Shining agrees. “We were just headed back to the house to see when dinner is planned.”

AJ glances at the sun’s position. “Soon actually. I should probably head back and start getting things ready.”

I glance at her. “What’s on the menu?”

“Well, seeing as how this will be the first dinner with all eight of us, I’m planning something special.”

Fluttershy claps her front hooves. “I can’t wait, do you need any help in the kitchen?”

“That’s mighty kind of you Flutters, sure thing.” AJ then turns to me. “Dash, can you go round up the others? Go find Twilight and such.”

I give a small salute. “Right away ma’am.”

I kick off the ground and take flight, still somewhat amazed at how naturally flying comes to me now. It’s crazy to think just two weeks ago I didn’t think this was even possible. In any case, I gotta go find Twilight so we all get to this dinner on time. The first actual meeting of the Eight! This is going to go so well!

~~~~~~~

“This does not seem to be going that well,” I say to Twilight as she stands next to me. She nods as we both glance around the living room. All eight of us were enjoying appetisers before we sat down for the meal, but the mood is a bit, well, private. Instead of having one big social with everyone talking, everyone is just meeting in pairs and keeping to themselves. I suppose Twilight and I were not helping this situation, as the pair of us were sitting alone as well.

“We need like, an ice breaker or something.” Twilight suggests to me.

“Hello, my name is Rainbow Dash and here’s a fun fact about me, I used to be a man.” I chuckle. “Nah, we all already know each other, we just need an excuse to work together on something.”

Twilight agrees. “And we already have an excuse to work together!”

I take a bite of my celery stick. “I know, right? We need to plan out the rest of our lives as ponies.”

The alicorn nods. “Agreed 100%. I was hoping that once together we would have like, you know, a Council of Elrond type thing and figure this out. Sit in a circle and lay out the facts and talk about where we stand and how to live.”

I snicker, “Council of Elrond? Really sister?”

She rolls her eyes. “Oh be quiet Dash, you know what I mean.”

I nod. “Fair enough. Anyway, you got any ideas to get this dinner going?” I glance at the tables where AJ just laid out the food. Right now the dining area consists of two picnic tables connected lengthwise. I frown as I can already imagine half of our friends congregating on one far end, while the other half sits on the other end. “Twilight, we’re going to need a way to shuffle people up. You know, break them out of their comfort zones and make them sit next to new people. That way we work more as a group.”

“I was just thinking about that.” Twilight turns to the living room full of ponies and loudly clears her throat. “Dinner is ready every pony! For dinner today let’s mix things up: You have to sit next someone you didn’t know as a human.

I nod, it seems like a smart idea to me. “Dibs on the chair next to the desserts!”

After some shuffling around, all eight of us find a seat. I find myself at one end of the table, with Twilight on my right and Big Mac and Pinkie on my left. Meanwhile, Shining sat at the opposing end, flanked by both AJ and Fluttershy with Rarity also nearby. I looked at their group of four, then back at mine. Something seems unbalanced but I can’t put my hoof on it. Both sides are a nice mix of our Iowa group and the Canada group, but still, it feels like we’re divided more than ever.

I glance at Twilight and she just shrugs. Meanwhile, a clinking comes from the opposite side of the table and we all look up to see Shining taping his glass with a magically levitated fork. “Hey, can I get everyone’s attention? I’d like to propose a toast! To new friends and old finally united! To Dash for leading us here, and to the Apples for hosting us!”

“And to Pinkie!” The pink pony claps her hooves happily.

Shining stammers for a moment. “And yes, and to Pinkie! Cheers to everyone.”

I frown and look at my glass, knowing I have no way to cheers with hooves. I can clumsily drink with my hooves, but there’s way I could reach across the table with a glass. The three unicorns all raise their drinks high and clink glass with each other, then awkwardly pause as they realize the other five ponies at the table can’t do anything. Twilight clumsily moves her glass down the table and clinks it against the five glasses that are resting on the table.

Mac shakes his head. “Well, I’ve never felt like a cripple before at my own house, but thanks for that Shining.”

The other stallion bites his lip. “Well, dinner looks delicious!”

Silence falls onto the table as we all start eating. I glance around in between shoving greens into my maw. Hmm, this is our best chance to talk as a group of eight, and no one is talking. I take a swig of water and clear my mouth before trying to start some conversation. “So... um, we’re ponies.”

Across the table I see Jack facehoof. Mac just nods at me. “Yep, that we are. At least we’re all getting used to it by now.”

Shining shrugs. “Well, I wouldn’t say we’re used to it, but you know, we’re getting by.”

Twilight clears her throat and contradicts her sibling. “Well, we’ll get used to it, won’t we.”

They exchange a glare and Fluttershy squeaks in a word. “Now, come on, there’s always a chance we will figure this all out.”

I bite my tongue. I didn’t like arguing with friends, and it would take Satan himself to get me to argue with Fluttershy.

Pinkie tosses a hoof in the air playfully. “Fluttershy, I sometimes play make-believe too.”

Half the jaws on the table drop at Pinkie’s insult, and AJ slams the table with her hoof. “Pinkie Pie! That’s terrible!”

Pinkie’s ears go flat. “Well jeez, I know playing make-believe isn’t very adult of me, but there’s no need to make fun of my hobbies, sheesh.”

Rarity scoffs, “If you’re going to insult someone, at least have the nobility to man up to your statements Pinkie.”

Mac grimaces, “Lay off the earth pony, she was just making a joke.”

I look up and down the table and it finally clicks. That’s how the table is split: The four ponies on this end are accepting their new lives, and the four over there are still fighting it and looking for a way back. I glance over at Twilight to see if she figured it out, but she’s just staring at her plate, poking at her food with a levitated fork. Meanwhile, the thinly veiled insults grew in volume all around me.

“I always admired how you could just ignore the facts and ignore who you really are. I’m jealous, I could never do that!”

“Well excuse me for having a little hope, it’s only human.”

“Too bad you’re not human.”

I rub my eyes with both hooves. This isn’t happening right now, why the hell can’t everyone just get along. Why must all populations always find some line that divides them, and then fight tooth and nail over that line. We were all getting along a few minutes ago too! Well that’s certainly not the case anymore.

Everyone at the table seems to be talking at once now, really the only two ponies who remain silent are Twilight and myself. Then, out of the blue, I hear a random insult thrown at me. “Yeah, well Rainbow Dash started it!”

I look up and raise a hoof. “Whoa, come on now, I’m not going to fight with you guys.”

Jack rolls her eyes. “Well, you still started it.”

I give her a confused stare. “All I said was ‘So, we’re ponies.’ I just wanted to start a conversation.”

Jack waves a hoof at me and repeats herself. “Well, yeah, you started it.”

Shining shakes his head. “I don’t understand why we’re fighting---.”

“Thank you!” I smile at the stallion across the table.

He continues, “--if all of us were turned into humans once, there’s no reason why we can’t change back. Why argue with that logic? Why are we fighting about this?”

I sigh and bury my face back in my hooves to leave the argument once more. Unfortunately, the table had other plans. Rarity speaks up, “Ah ha, see, Dash finally gets it!”

I bite my tongue, but it doesn’t work this time and I snap my head back up. “No. I don’t ‘get it’. We were turned into humans because Discord used his fucking crazy insane black magic on us, that’s not exactly something we can do to ourselves! And when it happened to us, it completely ruined our lives, not to mention probably allowed Discord to destroy all of Equestria once we were banished. Don’t you guys get it? Yes, I fully understand you all miss your humans lives and you all want your old lives back. And yes, I cherish my old human memories and relationships. But look at the bigger picture for once, will you? Look at the consequences on a larger scale. Turning into humans was the worst thing to ever happen to us! An entire fucking utopian world was lost because of it! Because we were made human!”

Fluttershy sighs. “Dash, don’t be so overly dramatic.”

In desperation I glance over to Twilight, but she’s still keeping her head low and staring at her empty plate. Big Mac speaks up, “I agree with Dash. And trust me, I never liked ponies and I was quite happy with being a human. But still, even if I loved being part of mankind, it’s a fool’s errand to ignore who we really are and to spend all our time wishing and hoping for things that could never happen. You might as well go around moping and being sad that there are 24 hours in a day. You can complain all you want, but it’s not going to change. We have a lot of work to do, and we can’t get it done if you all keep leaving one hoof in the past.”

Jack grits her teeth. “You’re such a hypocrite brother, you wanted to change back more than anyone, and now you're mocking us for wanting to do so?”

He holds up both hooves. “Look, sister, I would change back if we could, but we can’t.”

“You don’t know that.” Shining glares.

Pinkie nods excitedly. “Oh, but clearly Shining does! Oh boy, I knew he was hiding something! Tell us how to fix this Shining! Tell us the solution that you have! Pretty please with a cherry on top!”

Shining glares at his old friend, before taking a deep breath. “Twilight.” He points a hoof firmly at his sister. “Twilight will solve this for us.”

Twilight is in the middle of massaging her temples when she hears that line. A second later she brings her forelegs down to the table, using far too much force in the process. Her hooves loudly slam into the wood, making plates jump and silverware loudly clatter. “Oh, of course! Have me solve it for you! That’s always the answer to your problems, isn’t it?”

“Excuse me?” Shining leans back in surprise.

She closes her eyes and lowers her voice. “It’s been that way  for twenty five years, brother. You’re were always off doing things for fun while I was the one working my butt off. And then you would bring friends home, and I would always hear whispers of the word ‘egghead’ and ‘nerd’ as you passed by my room on your way to play video games.”

Shining’s ears go flat. “Sis, come on, you know I supported you--.”

Twilight continues her tirade, “But then, whenever an issue arose that he couldn’t solve, what does my brother do? Who does he always come running to? Who does he just assume can solve his hardest problems? Year after year, decade after decade, even after we change species, he always just assumes I can solve everything.”

“But you know what Shining? I can’t solve this one, and you know what? Maybe part of me is glad I can’t. It means I won’t have to go back to that life where I was nothing but a tool used by everyone else to solve their hardest problems. So guess what? You want to find a way back? You want that so badly?” Twilight loudly gets up from the table and starts trotting for the door. “Well then, I’m sorry brother. But you’re going to have to learn how to figure that one out without me.”

        Shining brings his hooves up and looks around. “What the fuck was that about?”

I shake my head and sigh, “Great, just great.”

Shining pauses for a moment, then stands up and starts to go after her. “Twilight...”

Mac speaks loud and clear, “Let her go.”

        Shining glares at him. “Don’t tell me how to talk to my own sister.” He waves a hoof at him. “This is all your fault you know, you talked to her today, you made her angry like this.”

        Rarity winces and reaches out towards her stallion. “Shining. Please dear, please don’t insult our gracious host.”

        Mac holds up a hoof. “I have no qualms with you Shining, in fact I heavily respect you and what your friends have been through. I just really think your sister is still figuring things out and needs time to think things over. She’s a smart girl and needs time to figure out who she is.”

        Another silence falls upon us and Applejack slowly leaves her seat, then moves to sit next to her brother. She leans into his side. “You should listen to him Shining, this big oaf learned a few things about sisters.”

        Mac nuzzles her shoulder. “Heh, that I did.”

I watch the siblings for a moment before turning to the far side of the table. “Sorry for arguing with you guys, I guess we have more unresolved tension that any of us anticipated.”

        Rarity nods. “Well, at least we learned it’s out there now. Hopefully we can work to solve it now that we know about it.”

        Mac speaks up again, “Yeah, looks like we got our work cut out for us.”

        Fluttershy looks around at the ruined meal. “Well, so much for the first great first dinner of all eight of us.”

        Pinkie taps her plate. “So, does this mean we’re not getting dessert or...”

A few of us chuckle and Jack stands up. “Of course not, I think we all could use a sweet ending right about now.”

~~~~~~~

        A few hours later I find another cloud for the night, and I settle down with it floating a few dozen feet over the farm. It would be nice if I could somehow tether this to the ground or something. I don't understand how in the show Rainbow Dash had a house made of clouds that didn't blow away. Do they really not have any wind across their land? I ponder how it would feel to live in a world that didn't have wind. I bet fans would sell really well there.

        “Dash, are you up there?”

I sit up and feel my ears swivel to locate the noise. I poke a head over the side of the cloud and spot the yellow pegasus below me on the dark ground, probably on the way to her cottage. “Hey Flutters! You wanna come up and try a cloud? I promise you it's super fluffy!”

She takes a step backwards. “Uh, maybe later, that looks really high.” She rubs her neck and speaks up again “I just wanted to apologize for dinner, I didn't want to argue with anyone.”

I smile down at her. “I think we're all sorry about that Fluttershy, don't worry about it.”

“No hard feelings?”

“Oh don't be silly Fluttershy, of course not!”

She laughs, “Alright, just checking. Well, have fun up there Dash, don't fall off.”

I wave a hoof. “Don't worry about it, I was born to do this. Good night!”

“Sweet dreams!”

~~~~~~~

The dreams were certainly not sweet, they came fast and thunderous. That being said, I’m not really sure what’s going on in this most recent dream that I entered. All I know is that it’s surprisingly sharp and I feel really lucid. I’m standing on a giant, dark blue cloud of some sort, and I can even feel the breeze in my mane and through my fur. I glance around, this is too real to be a dream. But at the same time, I have never been more sure that I’m dreaming. What the hell is going on here? “Hello? Is anybody out there?” I call out to the night.

A gentle, yet authoritarian voice comes from behind me. “Well, I’ll be damned, the Element of Loyalty thrives.”

I know that voice. My mind scans my human memories to find where it’s from. Just as I do, I turn around in shock and see her standing behind me. “Princess Luna?" I say in hushed amazement. Without even realizing it, I kneel before her.

She chuckles softly into the night. “There’s really no need for that Dash. I assure you, the honor is all mine.”

I stand back up and fumble for words. “Is this for real? You’re alive and can enter my dreams? Are you on Earth?”

She takes a deep breath. “We need to talk.”