by Bastinator

Chapter 9: Derby Turby

Another day, another peaceful dream laced in white. You’re unsure of why you keep envisioning this place. Perhaps it’s your mind trying to soothe your subconscious. Now that you look at it though, the room’s just bland. There’s no color, no spark to keep it going. The walls seem to be closer in then you originally believed. You look down at yourself, your body wrapped in a white light that blends almost seamlessly into the environment. One part that isn’t hidden by the spectrum is a little funny now that you think about it. You wiggle your toes to and fro and watch the simple yet chaotic rhythm it contains. The nubs of flesh sift through the air reminding you of Pinkie in a small sense. The bounds of energy so fiercely contained in such a small mannerism. Lights dim as you envision the town and where you left off last. Oh yes, the aftermath.


You open your eyes as a stinging ray of light pierces the barn door, holding up your hand to block the blinding perpetrator. ”Finally awake huh partner?”

“Ap- Oh, hey AJ. *yawn* Mind shutting the door? My eyes are killing me.” She walks over to the door and bucks it shut, the hinge’s rattling clawing at your ear drums. “That- wasn’t very nice.”

”Serves you right for drinking that much cider.” You stand up against one of the supports and crack your back, your armor spurring back to life.

“I wasn’t that drunk.”

”Ya tried to ride Big Macintosh like a bull.” Huh, you don’t remember that.

“Did I win?”

”That’s not the point.”

Thinking back, you didn’t have to be drunk to do something like that. Your rub your head, your helmet- MISSING. “Oh shit. Where’s my helmet?! I need a mirror.”

You rummage through the barn, finding a pool of standing water to catch your reflection. ”That piece of metal’s fine Anon. I kept it safe for ya.” At least that’s one thing you don’t have to worry about.


Alright, you’ve still got all your teeth, no needle or burn marks, hair seems to be okay. ”Twilight didn’t get ya either.”

“Phew, that’s a load off my shoulders.”

”Ah do wonder what she put in your drink though.”



“You best,” you reply lightly. She sits beside you, her eyes wandering down to her leg. “So how’s it feel to be back at 100%?”

”Feels good. I ain’t one for lollygagging.” She lifts her hoof, still getting used to the tiny sensations that once eluded her.

“Admittedly, it is a bit disheartening to see you like this.” She replies with a look of curiosity. “It’s just- The entire reason I came here was because you needed help.”

She nods as she begins to understand your predicament. ”Ya think we’re gonna leave ya high and dry.”

“Is that wrong though? With Winter fast approaching and you back in the game,” you shrug. “It’s too costly to keep me here.”

”Cost ain’t an issue.”

You look her in the eye. “We both know that’s not true.”

“Ya don’t know that.”

“I’ve said before that I am many things. Blind is not one of them, and neither is naive.” Sweet Apple Acres isn’t in the best state of things. The equipment’s rusty from sheer age, the walls falling apart. The extra weight you bring on can only hasten this place’s fall. No amount of labor you can exert will make you worth keeping. You’ve taken an economics class before, you know the signs that you didn’t sleep through. “It’s inevitable.”

She sighs, reaching behind her and grabbing your helmet, passing it into your hands. ”What do you see when ya look at yourself?”

“Applejack don’t-“

”Anon…” she speaks, her will shining through, “What do you see?” Fine, you’ll entertain her. You look down at the pool, your eyes staring back at you.

“The only thing I see is a man with a job he can’t finish.”

She takes this in, “Do you know what I see?” She places a hoof on your shoulder and nudges you softly. “I see an Apple.”

“Might want to lay off the drugs.”

She smacks you harder this time, you grinning in turn. ”You aren’t just somepony who wandered into our house looking for work.” Yeah, you were a Spartan. ”Sure we kept you ‘round to help, but that ain’t the only reason.” She looks into the water and into your eyes. ”We kept you… because you’re family, and we don’t let our family go.” You try and fight the smile growing on your face, but you can’t stop it. ”And no matter how bad things get, we’ll always be there for you.”

You pull her close with your arm around her, head against hers as you sit at the water’s edge. “I’m honored to be a part of a family like yours.”

”We know. That’s what makes you an Apple.” Maybe you’re getting soft… maybe your entire time here is some simulation that you’re failing. But you’d be glad to fail. As long as it’s for her.


You stare into the clear open sky, the sun’s aura shining upon the land with its purity. Your radar isn’t picking up anything new and you’re getting impatient. “So exactly when did she say they were coming?” you ask Applejack who’s getting just as impatient.

She huffs, blowing a strand of air out of her face, “Any minute now. I swear if they- There, about time.” A massive blip appears on your radar, but you hear them before you actually see them.

”HI!” And it’s Pinkie Pie. She’s piloting that balloon from the race, setting it down just outside the barn. Inside is the rest of the gang, excluding Rainbow Dash who’s soaring through the air like a kid on speed. ”Hop on in,” Pinkie cheers, “We’ve got room for days!”

Applejack hops on board, “Come on. Ain’t afraid of heights are ya?”

“Quite the contrary, I love heights. What people fear is the fall.” You step onboard the aircraft, Applejack piling in the sandbags.

”Let’s fly!” Pinkie shouts pointing to the heavens.

Pinkie cocks her head, “I said… Leeeet’s FLY!” Still nothing. “Huh? That usually works.”

Twilight’s the first to respond, ”Something must be weighing us down, but wha-“ All eyes turn to you, each with different voice behind it. You know at least what Rarity and Twilight are thinking, strip.

“Hold on, if you think I’m going to strip down to my undercarriage you got another thing coming.”

“Twilight,” Applejack says saving your skin, “Can’t you just fiddle with this here boat to make it fly?”

”I could, but that takes concentrated effort for the whole flight.”

“Welp, turns out I can’t go to the show after all, shame.”

Pinkie starts bouncing up and down, ”Or you could make him lighter.”

“…I hate you Pinkie.” Not giving you time to protest Twilight casts a spell on your person, a purple haze surrounding you before dissipating into your armor. And like fucking magic, the balloon starts to fly.

“Don’t even think about casting something else on me. Especially without my permission.”

”Not cool,” Pinkie says shaking her head in rhythm with yours.

“And you!” you turn to Pinkie.

”Who me?”

“Yes you.”

”Couldn’t be.”

“Then wh…” Fuck. Right into her trap. “Did I already say I hated you?”

”Yep,” she grins madly. Figures. You already used your hate count for the day, have to wait till tomorrow for another go. You lean against the edge, her gravity spell still fucking up with your balance. It’ll take a bit but you’re sure you’ll get used to the change.

“So… Who’re these Wondercolts?”

Dash is pressed up against your visor in a second, “They’re called the Wonderbolts!”

Applejack slaps your extended hand, “Check.”

“And mate.”

Dash grovels as you two snicker, “The Wonderbolts are only the most fantastic group of Pegasi in the existence of forever!” She drabbles on and on about these guys for the whole trip, listing off their names, ranks, accomplishments, the whole shebang. When you spot the pristine cloud city closing in you can’t help but stare at its ornate glory. The Infinity was a collaborative effort built as a monument for scientific and technological superiority.

Cloudsdale… The clouds gracefully fold and entwine together as they make up the structure of this beauty. It’s formless, yet still it has shape. A floating paradox in the sky, dripping rainbows and… Holy shit it’s actually pissing out a rainbow, like a fucking waterfall. ”Home sweet home,” Dash sounds as you near the city.

”It’s as beautiful as I remember,” Fluttershy peeps.


A pair of flyers come in to monitor your approach, the balloon coming to a rest on the outer bay. You’re about to step out when Twilight stops you, “Remember?” Oh yeah, that book.

“Only Pegasus ponies can walk on clouds.” A burst of energy shoots out of her horn and covers your group like a blanket. “Dammit Twilight.”

”Sorry,” she says happily. She’s not sorry… You step out onto the ornate flooring, the cloud condensed such as to grant it a look of marble. Looking out, all of Cloudsdale sports a similar texture much like those ancient guys had in Old Italy.

”Come on, if we get there first we might be able to see them warm up.”

“Remind me again of why I’m here,” you say to Twilight, the one who invited you.

”Dash was able to score tickets for all of us with one extra.”

“So why didn’t you give it to Spike?”

”Oh…” You let it be and follow the street where Rainbow Dash took off. The Pegasi go quiet as you approach, much like those in Ponyville had in the past. They must not get a lot of other worldly creatures here. None like you for that matter. You come upon Dash handing over her tickets in the express lane, the mare hurrying your group along.

“What’s so great about watching a race anyways? It’s just speed.”

“It’s not JUST speed,” Dash corrects you as you enter the stadium. “It’s about athleticism, determination, bravery, courage…”

”And going really fast,” AJ whispers to you.

“Meh, it’s free entertainment so I’m not gonna complain.” You walk out onto the bleachers and get a full view of the open field, a thin layer of cloud serving at the floor. Dash practically squees when she sees the team on the field.

“They’re not even flying.”

”So perfect…”

You roll your eyes and find your seat, plopping down on the cloud. It fits your butt just right. You wonder if they have a Sleep Experts pony branch. This gives a whole new meaning to sitting on cloud nine. ”I hope you like waiting,” Twilight explains, “Dash got us here a good hour early.”

“If Pinkie can stay still so can I. Ain’t that right-“ That pony can’t even sit for ten seconds… “At least I’ve got Applejack as company, ain’t that ri-“

”She went to get refreshments.” Okay, you’re 0-2, but that’s alright.

“Fluttershy doesn’t mind sitting right. Right?”

”Went with Applejack.” Well that’s just great. Twilight sits beside you, another seductress laying to your left.

“D-Dash?” She’s too busy gazing at the Wondercunts. You tuck your hands in as the two fiends gaze upon you like a pair of lions. You flick on your shields like a pair of old gloves. No Marshmallow Madness for them.

You stay put as the crowd begins to pour into the stadium. ”What y’all up to?” Applejack questions when she comes back with a box of popcorn.

”Oh nothing. Just making sure Anon stays out of trouble,” Rarity lies through her teeth.

You look to her pleadingly through your visor. “They tried to touch me…”

Applejack furrows an eye at the two who slink back in their seats. ”Mind making some room,” she says, more of a statement than a question. Applejack sits on one side and Fluttershy on the other, the two acting as a barrier from the two perverts. ”Ya alright?”

“Are the mean ladies gone now?”

”They ain’t gonna hurt you ya big baby.”

You sigh and kick your legs up as if nothing had happened. “Bring some for me?”

”O’ course.” You don’t have time to get any as trumpets blare out across the stadium, a lone Pegasus flying into the center.

”It’s starting!” Rainbow squeals shooting up to the railing.

”Mares and Gentlecolts, it is with great pleasure that I present to you the annual Wonderbolts Derby!” The crowd cheers as the Wonderbolts burst into the air leaving a trail of smoke and lightning in their wake.

“Okay,” you nod your head, “That’s actually pretty cool.”

”And I know how much you’ve been waiting for this race but first a quick announcement from none other than the Princess herself.” The crowd oohs as a light shines up towards the viewing booth as an Alicorn steps out to the balcony. Everypony bows their heads, you zooming in on her. She speaks as you observe her white coat and naturally flowing mane consisting of various light colors. She certainly fits the role.


Her eyes trail over the crowd, stopping on you, “Please, enjoy.” Shit you weren’t even listening, the crowd roaring over you once more. You continue to watch the booth as everypony’s attention turns to the race track where they begin to line up.

”Anon,” Applejack grabs your attention, “You’re gonna miss it.”

“Oh yeah,” when you look back to the balcony, the princess had already retreated inside.


You sit back as the ponies fly for your amusement, taking your thoughts off the princess’s gaze. Surprisingly you start to get into it, cheering for one pony and the next. ”Anon,” AJ shouts again halfway through the race.


She points her head to Twilight who’s motioning for you to follow. “No funny business?”

”No funny business,“ Twilight answers. That doesn’t sound good.


You exit through the stadium, the others too enthralled with the race to notice. “Where are we going exactly?”

”The princess called for an audience with you.”

“And exactly why would she do that?”

”I don’t know.”

“How do you not know? Aren’t you like her study buddy or something?”

”I’m her student, but that doesn’t mean she tells me everything.” She must have some idea, but… she doesn’t. The tone of her voice gives that away. Whatever the princess wants, she doesn’t want Twilight to know about it. Beforehand at least. You walk up a flight of stairs, a contingent of guards directly outside. They stay unflinching at your approach, Twilight and yourself entering the booth.

The room’s devoid of much of what you’d expect from a royalty’s chamber. There’s no servant by her side or bottle of chardonnay she’s tending. Just the room and the Princess looking out the window to the field below. ”Celestia!” Twilight calls galloping over to her.

The Princess smiles and hugs the mare, “It is good to see you again my faithful student. How go your studies?”

”Great, I mean, well. I’ve been sending my friendship reports just as you asked.”

”I appreciate it,” she looks to you her grin dissipating, “I wish to talk to your friend Twilight.”

”Of course, but he doesn’t like to talk that much.”

Twilight turns to face you, Celestia looking down at her pupil, “Alone.” The transition from joy to disappointment on Twilight’s face is almost comical if it wasn’t so tragic. Naww it’s still funny.

But she sucks it up, “Yes Princess. I’ll be waiting outside.” Twilight makes a swift exit, leaving just you and the princess.

”I thought you’d be taller.”

“Can’t please them all,” you sigh plopping down on the couch.

She giggles softly, “Make yourself at home.”

“Thanks,” you reply propping up your feet and taking off your helmet. She watches you as you sit passing the time. “Well. If this is all we’re going to do I think I’m missing a race.”

”I did not excuse you,” she says as you begin to get up. Ok then. Guess you’re just gonna sit here.

“Whatever you say princess.” Her continued observance is rather disconcerting and puts you on edge.

Finally, she breaks her silence, “You are an interesting creature.”

“Tell me about it. I can do some things with my hands that no ordinary person should.”

”Poor behavior towards authority. Twilight was certainly correct in that regard. Tell me… Is it true what she says about you?”

“Yes, but only on Thursdays and only if their husbands aren’t around. Just feels weird otherwise.”

”About the manticore. Is it true?”

“No sense of humor,” you mutter. “What? That I took it out in a single hit? Sure, while you’re at it claim that I ventured into hell and slept with Satan’s wife.”

”So it’s false.”

“I never said that,” you tease, trying your hardest to get on her nerves.

”You understand how dangerous a manticore is correct?”

“Yeah, Twilight said how nasty those were. Ohuhu, scary. I’ve fought worse.”

She takes a seat across from you, “Explain.”

“Hmmm, I don’t think so.”

”You would disobey me?”

You chuckle and get into sitting position, elbows on your knees. “Princess. Think about it this way. You stared at me from the crowd, later on you get your student to fetch me, she doesn’t know what’s going on, I don’t know what’s going on. This puts me a little on edge.” You cross your legs and lean back. “You tell me why I’m here and I’ll tell you what you want to know. Deal?”

”Perceptive, a worthy quality, one that few share. To answer you, I merely wish to talk.”

“And just why is that?”

”Anon. Think about it this way. You appear out of nowhere, vanquish a powerful foe in a single stride, elude my personal student and then- Poof. You allow yourself to be seen. This, Anon, puts me on edge.”

You rub your chin. “I see what you did there, and I like it. But first let me assure you that I mean no harm to anypony. Except for Twilight. I need to pay her back for the jumper cables.”

”Jumper cables?”

“Yeah, long story. Anyways, how was your day?”

She laughs silently, “This is what I get for asking her to get to know you.”

“Ahhh, so you put her up to it.”

”Yes, but I didn’t mean for that to happen.”

You shrug and sit back. “So how about that talk?”


You talk for… who knows how long. Listening to her was simply fascinating, more so than you thought. To think that she’s lived for thousands of years and still looks so young. What is her secret? She’s probably got the fountain of youth stored in her bathroom or something. She asks you about your job, before you came to Equestria. You spoke to her of being a Spartan, the sacrifices that humanity’s had to male to ensure peace. ”And what of your task now? Where does it stand?”

“This place was never in the job description. It’s without words.”

”You seem to like it here.”

“I like the ponies, people, whatever. Things are different here and I like that.”

”Tell me, does Applejack know of your past? The things you’ve done? Those you’ve lost?”

“How did you know about- She doesn’t-“ You furrow your brows angrily and look to the door. “Twilight…”

”I admit, it was strange when she wrote about your affection for the mare. Certainly the physical differences-“

“Alright, I get it. It’s weird okay. Go ahead and rub it in. It’s what you authoritative types do.”

She acts almost shocked at your interruption. ”And just what does that mean?”

“I’ve never met a CO or person above me who hasn’t beaten me over the head with this stuff. No one. I do one thing wrong and they’ll resort to it, a crux to demean me.”

”Anon it was not intention to poke fun.” She’s right. She isn’t your CO, she’s not placing herself above you. She’s different from them.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t assume.”

”It is quite alright. What I meant to say, was that it must’ve been hard to see through that barrier.”

You swallow hard and look to the floor. “Not that hard.”

She looks to the sunset, “Looks like work calls once more.” You stand back up as she walks you to the door, “This chat, was rather pleasant if I should say.”

“For us both it would seem.”

”Thank you for speaking with me. Have a safe journey.”

“And thank you ma’am. Good luck with the whole sun raising thing.”

She chuckles, “Indeed, and if there’s anything I can do to help you, don’t be afraid to ask.”

“Of course.” You’re about to exit the door when an idea comes to mind. “Actually there is something I’d like to ask. A favor, more accurate.”

”Of course.” You whisper in her ear, too close to the door to take any chances. She nods and hums at your request. ”I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thank you Princess.”

”Please… Call me Celestia.”

“Farewell Celestia.”


You head out through the doors and downstairs where an anxious Twilight is waiting with her friends. She practically tackles you, thankfully you still had your shields turned on causing her zap backwards. “Which way to the balloon again?”

”This waaaaaaaaaaaaay!” Pinkie says gliding down the cloud like a giant slide.

Twilight comes out of her shock and follows you aggressively, “What’d she say? What’d you talk about?” The questions go on and on all the way until you reach the balloon. ”Did she-“ you clamp her mouth shut and help the other ponies board.

”Ready to head back home? Granny’s cooking her famous shepherd’s pie.” Applejack asks.

You help her on board with a smile. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Stepping back in you finally release Twilight’s gob, “What’s that for?”

“Not a soul…”

Today was a slitting Twilight’s throat day… Okay fine, maybe not.