Pound and Pumpkin were laughing excitedly, their manes being whipped backward as Pinkie Pie ran, pulling the wagon the two were sitting in. The three of them were heading to the park to hang out with their friends.
“Faster! Faster!” cried the twins.
“You got it!” said Pinkie, amping up the speed to their delighted cheers.
After a minute she suddenly said, “We’re here!” She stopped short, and the twins squealed in surprise as the two of them went flying in the air.
Pinkie ran forward, catching the two of them before they hit the ground.
After a brief period of shock they said, “Again! Again!”
“Nope! Sorry. No more of that. You two go play on the playground for a minute while I go find the girls. They should be close by. Are you gonna stay out of trouble for me?”
“Yes, Auntie Pinkie!” they responded in unison.
“Good. I see some cupcakes in your future.”
Pound and Pumpkin walked over to the sand box. There was only one other foal there, an orange colt. “Hey, maybe we can go play with him.” said Pound.
“That’s the spirit!” said Pinkie Pie. “Have fun, you two. I’ll be back real quick.” With that she ran off.
Pound ran up to the earth pony. “Hey, there. I’m Pound Cake, and this is my twin sister Pumpkin. Who are you?”
“I’m Orange Mango,” he responded gruffly. “I’m not in the mood to play, so can you just leave me alone, please.”
“Oh… okay. Sorry.”
Going off to the other side the two of them began making a sand castle. Each of them worked on their own. Pound quickly saw that Pumpkin was making a bigger and better one than him. His face went sour, but then a mischievous smile came to his face. He got up and walked over to her.
“Wow, Pumpkin! That’s a great castle you’re making there.”
“Can I just-WHOA!” Pretending to trip he landed straight on her castle, flattening it.
A brief bit of shock crossed her features before her face scrunched up in anger. “Pound, you DUMMY-HEAD! You ruined it!”
“Whoops,” he said in a sarcastic voice, a smug grin on his face as he stood up. “Did I do that?” He made a point of slowly stepping off the former castle, stomping down whatever was left before giving one final kick back, sprinkling Pumpkin with sand.
Pumpkin growled. “Pound, you jerk! I can’t stand you!” Picking up a big pile of sand she threw it at him.
He laughed before jumping out of the way, sticking his tongue out at her. “You missed!”
“Hey!” cried out Orange Mango, turning around and trying to rub the sand out of his mane.
“Oh, sorry!” Pumpkin said sincerely. “My dumb brother made me mad so I-”
Before she finished the colt shoved her hard, knocking her on her back. “Now I bet you’re sorry, pumpkin head!”
Pumpkin sniffed, about to cry. Why were boys such jerks? She suddenly gasped as Pound turned around and bucked the colt, sending him flying a few feet before he landed hard in the dirt.
Pound had a furious look on his face. “Don’t you EVER put your hooves on my sister! You got that?”
Orange Mango was holding back tears as he stood up, saying, “You’ll be sorry! I’m gonna tell my brother on you!” He ran off, the sound of crying getting fainter as he faded from sight.
Pumpkin looked over at her brother, wondering what had gotten into him. “What was all that about? First you ruin my sand castle and kick sand in my face, and then you bucked someone else for picking on me?”
The serious look still on his face, Pound responded, “You’re my sister and my twin. Of course I love to tease you and make you mad. But I’M the ONLY one allowed to do that. I won’t let anybody pick on my sister while I’m around. I don’t care who they are.”
Mixed feelings were going through Pumpkin. A part of her felt touched, a part of her felt amused, and a part of her still felt angry. She sighed. He had gone to the trouble of protecting her instead of joining in or doing nothing. She had to at least give him that. Reluctantly she placed a hoof around him, saying, “Thanks, Pound.”
“No problem! How about this time we make a castle together so that we can make one big one?”
“Okay,” she said, her negative feelings already fading.
They had only been working on their new sand sculpture for a minute when they heard the voice of the colt from before. “I told you you’d be sorry. I brought my big brother Sun Glaze, and he’s not happy with the way you hit me.”
“Oh, so what?” said Pound, but his cocky attitude quickly faded as he saw not just one older earth pony, but four. They all looked to be four or five years older than him and Pumpkin.
“Whoops,” said the colt sarcastically. “Did I forget to mention his friends were here?”
Pound gulped as the four ponies approached. His eyes turned to his sister. He didn’t care what happened to himself, but he didn’t want Pumpkin to get hurt. The colt might still want revenge for when Pumpkin accidentally threw sand at him. Grabbing her hoof he whispered, “Get out of here. I’ll distract them.”
Pumpkin’s heart was racing. “No!” she whispered back. “I’m not leaving you alone. You don’t have to be so brave. We’re in this together!”
The four ponies stood in front of the twins. A pony who looked like an older version of Orange Mango said, “So, you’re the little troublemakers? The sand thrower, and the brother kicker. Now I have to waste my time teaching you a lesson about being respectful.” He gave Pound a shove.
Speaking much more bravely than he felt Pound said, “I guess your little brother is such a wimp he can’t do anything unless he’s got four older ponies to help him.”
The colt and his brother both got angry frowns on their faces. “You better watch your mouth!” said Sun Glaze. He gave Pound a harder shove, knocking him to the ground.
Pumpkin jumped forward, biting down hard on his hoof. He began to yell in pain, crying out, “Get off!” He shook his hoof rapidly, but he couldn’t get her off. He finally gave her head a hard smack with his other hoof, and she let go and fell to the ground.
Rage flowed through Pound, obliterating all thought. Getting up, he jumped into the air, headbutting Sun Glaze. The pain when their heads collided was barely felt through his adrenaline. While he was stunned Pound kicked his legs out from under him. When Sun Glaze fell to the ground Pound went to buck him in the face when he was suddenly grabbed by Sun Glaze’s friends, holding him still.
Sun Glaze rubbed his head with his hoof. “Darn brat! That hurt!” He punched Pound in the stomach. Pound gasped out in pain. “You’re gonna pay for that!”
Pumpkin knew that the two of them were in big trouble. Her brother was being hurt, and she didn’t know how to save him. She couldn’t leave him all alone to go get help. She felt like she couldn’t breathe for the fear going through her. She wanted to help her brother. ‘I have to save my brother!’ she thought desperately. ‘I have to!’ As Pound yelped in pain again fear began being replaced by anger. “Stop it! Leave him alone!
“I said STOP!” A strange sensation went through her, and all of a sudden with a burst of blue energy the four foals went soaring way up into the sky.
The four earth ponies were shaking and squirming, trying to escape the magic. As they looked down and saw how high they were they changed their minds and stopped struggling.
Elsewhere Pinkie Pie had located the rest of the gang. Applejack was the one who noticed it first. She rubbed her hooves against her eyes before saying, “Um… is it or just me, or is there a group of four kids flyin’ in the air?”
“It’s not that unusual,” replied Rainbow Dash. “They’re probably just early learners like I was.”
Pushing Rainbows head up she said, “Flyin’ without wings or a horn?”
Pinkie Pie looked up at the soaring ponies and a nervous expression came to her face. That was around where she had left Pound and Pumpkin.
“I’ll go check it out!” said Twilight, and she ran off, Pinkie Pie right behind her.
“Apologize!” said Pumpkin angrily. “Apologize for hurting my brother right now or I’ll drop you!” The four scared ponies quickly rushed to say sorry, and some of her anger faded.
A few moments passed, and then she laughed nervously and said, “Um… I… I don’t know how to control this. I just did it because I was angry.” Her magic began fluctuating, getting weaker, the four ponies dropping down rapidly. “Um, um, um, um… what do I do?” She tried to focus on keeping them airborne, but it wasn’t working. Then suddenly the glow faded entirely, and they began plummeting to the earth.
Pound and Pumpkin had no idea what to do. There were only two of them, and four ponies to catch. They could only hope the sand would soften the fall enough that they wouldn’t be seriously hurt.
All four ponies became enveloped with a red glow, stopping their descent before they were gently placed on the ground.
“Twilight!” Pumpkin said in relief.
“What in Equestria is going on over here?” Twilight asked sternly.
At once every one of the ponies began talking together, making a great cacophony of an unintelligible mess of words.
“Quiet!” Twilight said loudly, and the chatter stopped. Walking forward she sat in front of Pumpkin. “Pumpkin Cake. What happened?”
“She’s just going to lie!” Orange Mango protested.
“I will hear both sides of the story and then I’ll decide who was in the wrong.”
Pumpkin looked over at her brother. She didn’t want him to get in trouble because he was trying to be a good brother for her.
Pound met her eyes. “Just tell the truth. It’s okay. All this started because of me anyway.”
“Is that right?” said Twilight, glancing over at him for a second. Returning her stare to the filly she said meaningfully, “Pumpkin?”
Pumpkin hesitated again, before saying, “Auntie Pinkie left us by the playground so we could play while she went to find you guys. We got into a fight, and I threw some sand at him, and it hit that kid.” She pointed at Orange Mango. “He got mad at me and he pushed me, and then Pound… Pound…” She couldn’t finish her sentence. How could she sell him out after he had tried taking on a fight he knew he couldn’t win for her safety?
Pound saw she wasn’t going to talk, so he spoke up. “I hit him. I gave him a kick. And then he ran off saying he was going to get his brother to teach me a lesson. All five of them came back, and I was trying to be brave for Pumpkin, and that one pushed me to the ground.” Pound pointed at Sun Glaze. “Pumpkin bit him, and he hit her to get her off, so I attacked him too.” He said it with no remorse, glaring at the older boy. “Then his friends grabbed me and he hit me back. Pumpkin got upset, and the next thing I knew all of them were flying up in the air. She made them apologize, but she didn’t know how to get them back down because she can’t really control her magic.”
“Is all this true?” Twilight asked. She looked around at the group. None of them responded or moved, but their faces said it all. “Every one of you acted irresponsibly and childish.
“Pound Cake. Responding to violence with more violence is never the answer and won’t get anything fixed. You should have tried to work things out before even thinking of resorting to such a method.”
Pound mumbled something under his breath, averting his eyes.
“What was that?” asked Twilight.
He turned to look at her now, saying in a clear voice, “I said you’re a liar!”
Pinkie Pie gasped. “Pound Cake! How-”
“Pinkie!” interrupted Twilight. “I offered to let him speak, so let him say what he’s thinking.
"Why do you think that?”
“Auntie Pinkie has told us all about your adventures. Nightmare Moon, Discord, Queen Chrys-alys-i-iss, and Tirek. Each time you went and fought them instead of trying to solve things with words. So don't try and tell me that using violence is something bad.”
“I won’t deny that we used violence to stop them, or it really would make me a liar. But those were situations of dire danger and peril, with many lives on the line and the safety of Equestria in jeopardy. This was just a small disagreement that could have been handled a whole lot better. If you hadn’t gone and attacked that boy the rest wouldn’t have happened. It doesn’t make it right that he shoved your sister because of an accident, but if talking with him didn’t work you should have asked an older pony to help settle things.”
Still Pound met her eyes remorselessly. “I’m not letting anyone hurt my sister while I’m around, and that’s final! He deserved what he got.”
Twilight’s eyes narrowed. She walked closer to him, sitting down in front of him. She saw that confronting his actions directly was only making him defensive, so she’d have to use a different route. Stifling her irritation she asked, “Pound Cake, who do you think is the most fun and awesome pony in Ponyville?”
The sudden change of topic confused him. “Auntie Pinkie…”
“That’s right. Auntie Pinkie also loves to make ponies smile and make friends, right?”
“So don’t you want to be just like her and be seen as just as much fun as she is?”
“Do you see Auntie Pinkie right now?” She saw Pound’s eyes automatically look over. “Is she smiling and happy right now? I know she’s taught you better than that, and making enemies when you could be making friends goes against everything Pinkie Pie stands for. If you had stopped to try to work things out you could have had a new friend today and brought joy to your Auntie Pinkie. But instead you’ve made her upset. Is that the kind of pony you want to be?”
Pound took in Pinkie's expression. He hated seeing Auntie Pinkie upset, and she looked so disappointed. The iron mask of his frown shattered as her words finally got through to him. “I’m sorrrrrrryyyyy!” he cried, running over to Pinkie and hugging her. “Please don’t ha-ha-hate me!”
Pinkie Pie placed a hoof around Pound, saying, “I could never hate you, Pound. But I do wish you had made a better choice today.”
Twilight looked over at the rest of the culprits. She chastised Orange Mango for not listening to Pumpkin’s apology and getting physical, and Sun Glaze and the other older boys for picking on the younger ones when they should know better, and for setting a bad example for Orange Mango to follow. Sun Glaze responded that he was only planning to be intimidating and give a few little shoves before they started berating his family and attacking him. Then he got mad.
“I think apologies are in order, all around. Each and every one of you did the wrong thing today. This is not what the magic of friendship is about. If all of you make up and work things out between you then I’ll forget about any punishment for your actions, as I think for some of you the guilt of what you’ve done is enough.”
Pound left Pinkie’s side and went over to Orange Mango. “I’m sorry I kicked you. I… I just got so mad when you shoved my sister.”
“Well… I shouldn’t have shoved her in the first place. I was mad too because my brother had said we were going to spend some time together, but he left me to go play with his friends.”
“Friends?” asked Pound, putting his hoof out.
“Friends,” he responded, meeting Pounds hoof.
“Wanna go play together and make the most epic sandcastle ever?”
“Yeah! With the three of us I bet we could make something much cooler than my brother can.”
“Is that a challenge, pipsqueak?” asked Sun Glaze.
“You know it!”
“Well, then. I guess it’s on!”
Pumpkin strained, but she couldn’t feel anything.
“What’s wrong?” asked Twilight.
“I was trying to give him a flower as a present, but I can’t make my magic work.”
“Magic takes a lot of work and practice. It can sometimes come out in bursts when you’re feeling strong emotions, but you’re too young to control it all the time right now.”
“Come on, Pumpkin!” said Pound, running over towards her. He tripped over the edge of the sandbox, heading face first to the ground.
“Pound!” said Pumpkin, her horn glowing again as she froze him in place and pulled him back to his hooves.
“Cool!” said Pound. “You saved me.”
“I don’t know how I did it. I just did. And you saved me too before.”
“Maybe,” said Twilight with a smile, “your special magical gift is protecting your brother. That’s why it comes easier for you when you see he’s in trouble. That would be a wonderful gift.”
“Wellllllll… Pound may be an annoying, loud, dumb, dumb, dummyhead, but he’s MY dummyhead.” She hugged her brother, feeling her love for him despite all the times he drove her crazy.
“Right back at you… dummyhead,” Pound said with a laugh.