It took several minutes for Derpy to finally release me from her hug. It’s amazing that despite her small stature, she had as much strength behind her hooves as Jack Fenton. How is that even possible? I may never know.
“Well… thanks for not breaking my spine,” I told her. Seems I had my wit with me again. Now that was something I did miss about emotions. It always came in handy when I needed it, and no doubt it would be needed in this candy coated world.
“No problemo!” Derpy said with a smile. “So you’re a fellow ghost believer, huh? That’s great! Hey, maybe we could work together in finishing my portal! That would be amazing!”
“Help finish the portal?” I parroted. I couldn’t believe it. It was like being handed the greatest treat in the world right on a silver platter. How could I resist? “That’d be awesome! I’d love to help!”
“Yay!!” Derpy exclaimed, flying around happily. “I’ve got a new science buddy! Best day ever!”
Sparkler, however, wasn’t looking very enthusiastic. “Auntie, aren’t you going a little overboard? I mean, how do you expect a little colt to help you build a portal to something that doesn’t exist? You haven’t even talked to his parents about this.”
Why did I cringe when she said that? ...stupid mortal emotions. “The ghost zone does exist!” I asserted, surprising the two mares. I really should have kept my mouth shut, but no. I ended up speaking again. “I’ve been there!”
Derpy gasped and Sparkler’s eyes widened considerably. “Y-y-you’ve been to the ghost zone?!” the wall-eyed mare asked.
“Several times. I’ve even seen the ghosts that live there.” And destroyed quite a few of them. I smiled inwardly at remembering when I freed the Ghost King, Pariah Dark, only to destroy him. It was a hard fought battle, but of course I eliminated him as a potential threat. Didn’t need some ghost getting desperate enough to release the king of ghosts on me.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Sparkler whispered. “Seriously, there’s no such things as ghosts! There’s no ghost zone! Maybe you were dreaming?”
“It was no dream!” I stomped my hoof down… why do I feel like that looked cute? “I’ve been to the ghost zone!”
“Look Danny,” Sparkler said, trying to sound sweet, yet stern. “Dreams can feel very real, but that doesn’t mean--”
“It’s real, blast you!” I shouted angrily. Wow, I haven’t felt true rage in a long time. I kinda like it. “I’ve seen the ghost zone. I’ve been in the ghost zone. I’ve seen the ghosts. I’ve felt the ghosts. I’ve been attacked by the ghosts! The ghost zone is very real, so get used to it!”
Sparkler and Derpy blinked at my sudden outburst. Wow, that felt good to say. It’s been so long that I’ve ever met a ghost skeptic. After everything that happened in Amity Park, no one could say ghosts didn’t exist. Ghost hunting became an actual, legitimate profession! Anyone who rejected the idea was living in denial.
“Wow,” Derpy said, astonished. “I’ve never seen somepony so adamant about ghosts…” And that was I found myself wrapped in another hug. “I just know we’re gonna be the bestest buddies ever!!” she said excitedly as she twirled around with me in her grasp.
Sparkler walked over to us once Derpy has let me go. “Okay, Danny. If you say you’ve seen the ghost zone, then I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Sorry for getting stern with you.”
Oh lord, she gave in so easily. These ponies really are weak willed. Disappointing. Oh well, better keep playing the part.
“No problem, Sparkler. Sorry I got mad, just a little tough on non-believers, I suppose.” Ugh, that left a horrible taste in my mouth.
Sparkler smiled, but another voice came from the top of the stairs before she could say anything. “Mommy! Sparkler! Dinner’s ready!”
“Oh goody!” Derpy gushed. “Food time!”
“I was starting to get a little peckish,” Sparkler admitted.
“Would you like to stay for dinner, Danny?” Derpy asked me. My stomach answered for me, letting out a loud growl. Wow, it’s been a long time since that had happened. The mares giggled at me and, thankfully, I didn’t blush or feel embarrassment. Hopefully that blasted emotion takes its time. I could do without that forever. “Come on, let’s get some food!”
We walked up the stairs, took me a couple of tries, but I got it after stumbling three times. Going down is easy, coming back up is where the problem lies. Derpy and Sparkler were already sitting down when I finally made it up and discovered the source of the earlier voice. It was a young unicorn filly with a blonde mane reminiscent of Derpy’s, but with a purple coat. I immediately realized that this was why she had called Derpy “Mommy”. This was Derpy’s child… quaint.
“Oh, hello!” the filly waved, setting down the plates and food at the table. Able to use levitation so young, admirable. I had learned long ago that unicorns were the main users of magic, able to use many different spells varying from levitation to teleportation. Very intriguing subject. “Who are you?”
“I’m Danny,” I greeted with a smile. I would have had to force it, but the smell of her cooking was really delectable.
“He’s going to be eating with us, muffin,” Derpy said affectionately.
“Oh, ok!” She set another plate for me. “I’m Dinky, nice to meet you.”
“Likewise,” I said, taking a seat in front of the plate.
“I hope you like zucchini!” Dinky said, setting down a casserole. Well, being friends with a vegetarian did have its benefits, after all. I could stomach even the worst of vegetables… except coleslaw. There was just something wrong with that stuff.
It was rather intriguing seeing these three serve out the meal. It was like a conveyor belt; Dinky would grab a plate and put a slice of casserole on it before passing it to Derpy. She would pour on a helping of carrots then passed it to Sparkler who added a serving of green beans. The first plate was put in front of me as they continued the automation until everyone had their plate filled with food. While I did want to eat, I was just so intrigued by the family dynamic that I sat and watched the whole process in full.
Then the strangest thing happened. Derpy, Sparkler and Dinky put their hooves together and closed their eyes before speaking in unison, “Thank you for the food.” They opened their eyes and started to eat.
What had I just witnessed? Did… did the ponies actually have a system of faith? Or was it just respect like the Japanese practiced? Hmm, it probably didn’t matter. Time to fill that ache in my stomach!
In practically a blink of an eye, I scarfed down everything on my plate. I don’t know how I didn’t make a mess, considering I wasn’t using utensils or anything, but I ended up completely cleaning my plate spotless. And I was still hungry.
“Seconds, please!” I announced, only to get blank looks. I noticed that they had barely touched their food and were staring at me with wide-eyes. “What?”
“Wow!” Dinky awed. “You must really like my cooking.”
“Maybe I shouldn’t have dragged you from the party,” Sparkler said wryly. “Should’ve made sure you got something to eat before we left.”
“It’s good for a growing colt to have an appetite,” Derpy said with a smile. She took my plate and refilled it. I took my time with it though, since most of the empty feeling in my gut was gone.
“So Danny,” Sparkler began, taking a quick bite of casserole. “Tell us a little about yourself.”
Crud. I knew this was coming. I can’t tell them much or else they’ll get suspicious. Alright Phantom, just play your cards right. “What do you want to know?” I asked innocently, picking at my food.
“What does your cutie mark mean?” Dinky asked.
My what? Cutie mark? ...wait, is that what those pictures on pony flanks are called? Well that’s stupid. I looked down at my flank and saw a strange image. It was a green ghost with an “F” emblazoned within. The very symbol of my family’s Fenton Works.
“What a strange picture,” Sparkler said, looking at it with narrowed eyes. “I don’t think I could place that anywhere.”
“It’s… it’s the symbol of my family’s business. I’m from a family of…” Should I tell them? Hmm, so many decisions. They’re gonna wonder why I left off right there, so I need to come up with something. Well, perhaps a little honesty will help in the long run. It could be to my benefit. “I’m from a family of ghost hunters.”
Derpy did a spit take from her water. “You what?! You’re a ghost hunter’s son?!”
Even Sparkler was surprised. “Well… that explains a few things.”
“That’s so cool!” Dinky cheered.
“I’d love to meet your parents, Danny,” Derpy said, calming herself down. “I’d love to see what they’ve accomplished.”
Ugh, I just had to cringe again.
“Speaking of which,” Sparkler, finishing her last bite, “we’d better get Danny home. Don’t want his parents to worry.” She turned to me. “So where’d you move to, kid? I can get you there in no time.”
Curse these emotions! Everytime they mention my family… wait… no, this, this could be just what I need! This could be my shelter! It has everything I need: access to special equipment, ignorant housemates, and is close enough to keep an eye on the princesses. Now Phantom, to play one of the oldest tricks in the book: the pitiful orphan.
“I haven’t moved anywhere,” I said, lacing a bit of sadness into my voice. It hurt my returned pride, but this was for my own good. “I just wandered into town.”
Even Derpy looked at me weird, and that’s saying something. “Wandered in? But what about your parents?”
Okay, Phantom, time to seal the deal. “My parents… my family… they’re gone. There was an accident and…”
Sparkler and Derpy gasped. If I wasn’t trying to play the part, there would have been a nice little smirk on my muzzle. If only that tear in my eye was roleplay.
“Oh you poor little colt,” Derpy cooed, wiping a tear from her eye. It’s always the ‘poor little child’ or ‘I’m sorry’. Jeez, it’s irritating!
Sparkler looked at Derpy for a moment before turning to her cousin. “Hey Dinky, why don’t you take Danny to the living room? Show him some of your toys or watch television.”
“Ok!” Dinky said, getting out of her chair and practically dragging me out of the room.
Only one thing bothered me, though. “Wait, you have television?”