House Rules

by AppleJack_Wack

Chapter 7: Who Needs a Map? (Applejack)

2:03 p.m.

We were still in the dining area. Spike had cleaned up all the dishes, and was cleaning them in the kitchen. However, the table was not yet wiped down, and still had the mess of the meal on the tablecloth. Rainbow Dash was still sitting on the end of the table, she pulled up another chair and put her legs up. I was sitting in the chair I had moved to when I was comforting her.

Rainbow Dash and I haven’t stopped talking since had told me about flight school. I was very interested in what else Rainbow Dash hadn’t told anypony about her past, and she seemed more than willing to oblige. She had told me how she got in a fight with her parents, and even though they somewhat made up, Rainbow Dash still left to look for glory on her birthday. She had explained how she graduated flight school at the top of her grade, and almost got in a fight with her former bullies.

She also told me that Fluttershy never actually graduated, she dropped out, and moved to a grove on the outskirts of Ponyville. She built a cottage in the grove so she could be close to the animals. I couldn’t imagine Fluttershy building it herself, or asking for help, but I didn’t dwell on the details.

She explained in detail what happened at Fluttershy’s earlier today. I felt kind of bad for Rainbow, but she wouldn’t accept my, or likely anypony’s, sympathy.

“Thanks for listening, Applejack. It feels kinda good to finally tell somebody all that stuff. But, um, could you maybe not tell anypony else all that?” Rainbow dash asked.

“Sure sugarcube, cross mah heart and hope to fly, stick a cupcake in mah eye,” I said while sticking my hoof in my right eye, “But they're yer friends too, even Twi.”

“Hmmmp,” Rainbow grunted back. She still couldn’t put aside her stupid pride. I don’t know what she thought she would gain, but she wouldn’t let it go.

I heard hoofsteps outside the dining room, and I went to go investigate. All of the others were at the end of the long hallway, even Fluttershy. I met them halfway and we stopped to talk.

Twilight was the first to speak, “So how’s Rainbow?”

“She’s still takin’ it like she just lost two years harvest. How’s Fluttershy?” I asked back.

“I’m okay Applejack, but i'm still upset with Rainbow,” Fluttershy answered in her own stead. I couldn’t tell if Fluttershy was actually okay, or she was just being polite as usual.

“Rainbow Dash could really use some support right now,” I insisted. Fluttershy took instant offense, and this time, it was apparent she was angry.

She needs support? She caused this! She’s not getting anything from me, especially since she hasn’t even apologized yet. Hmmp” Fluttershy stated, cocking her head to right.

“I'm sorry Applejack, but I tend to agree, especially after Rainbow’s outburst at Twilight earlier.” Rarity said.

“Ya, have you found out why she did that?” Twilight asked. Buck, all of the sudden, I’d been pushed into a corner. I would either have to lie to Twilight, or break my promise I just made with Rainbow Dash.

“Well Ah uh, did find out, but she doesn’t feel comfortable sharing it with anypony else. Ya understand don’t ya?” I answered. Twilight was not happy with that answer. Her mouth scrunched back, and her eyebrows furled. She sighed and hung her head. I felt like I'd done something wrong, but what else was I supposed to do? She backed me into a corner. I couldn’t lie, it's against my very nature, but I didn’t want to alienate myself from Rainbow Dash when she needed a friend more than ever.

“Applejack, how are we supposed to solve this if you refuse to tell us important details like this,” Twilight argued.

“Twi, if you were in mah hooves, you'd do the same thing. Ah made a promise and Rainbow wouldn’t trust any of us anymore if ah just gave it away on a whim,” I protested. Twilight grunted and continued walking past me, followed by the others. I started walking by them, and as they continued to the throne room, I stepped aside back in to the dining room.

Rainbow Dash was sleeping in her chair. I walked over to her and shook her a bit.

“Hey, Applejack... how long was I out?” she said slowly while yawning.

“Not long, couple minutes, but the others are back. It's time to head on over to the map room.”

“I guess. So that means Fluttershy’s gonna be there? Great,” she said as she got up from her chair. She yawned and her voice fell as she did. She almost fell over, but I caught her.

“You drunk or soemthin’, come on, wake up all the way and let's get a going” I insisted. She snickered a bit and started flying. She hovered above me as we finally exited the dining room. We made our way through the long hallway, ventured up the stairs, and entered the big double doors into the map room.

The map room was just as I remember when I last left. There were some remnants of the hay and dirt I brought in while decorating. What a wonderful disaster that was. The thrones were in the middle of the room, surrounding a circular tile in the floor that I know held a detailed, magical map of Equestria.

Twilight had surrounded the thrones with bookshelves, so it was much more cramped than it was originally. But, I barely spent enough time in this room to give too many feathers. Rainbow dash returned to the ground and I decided to warn her.

“Now Dash, remember to not act so matter-o-fact ‘bout this. Ya need them to know how much ya care about this, so Fluttershy’ll forgive ya.” I said. Rainbow Dash didn’t respond. She only stared blankly in front of her, but I hoped I got through to her. I started walking towards the throne, and by the hoofsteps behind me, Rainbow must’ve started following me. Everypony else was already sitting at their seats, whispering incoherently until I got close, than they stopped and stared at me.

“Come on, slowpoke, we've been waiting for ages,” Pinkie Pie said.

“Hold on y'all, we’re coming, not like the maps a goin’ anywhere,” I stated. I climbed up on top of the throne bearing my cutie mark at the top. It didn’t take long for Rainbow to follow suit. Not a moment after Rainbow’s bottom touched the crystal seat of her own throne, our cutie marks started glowing and tingling again.

“Oohoo, it tickles, hehe,” Pinkie Pie got out while laughing her heart out. The circular tile in front of us rose out of the ground. The geography of Equestria started to show and the map colored itself as it spun up of the ground. You could see everything in Equestria in such detail. You could see the chilly snow of the Crystal Mountains to the north, the tall skyscrapers of Manehatten and Fillydelphia to the northeast, the scorching deserts of the San Palomino to the southwest, even every last colorfully poisonous flower of the Hayseed Swamps to the southeast.

“Shouldn’t we be seein’ our cutie marks on the map bah now?” I asked.

“Patience, Applejack, the map knows what it's doing,” Twilight assured me. We waited for a few sweet seconds, and then our cutie marks started to copy themselves from our bodies into thin air. Then they converged and started spinning on the map. They circled the map and stopped somewhere in the Palomino Desert.

The San Palomino Desert was a hot, desolate, and inhospitable environment located southeast of Ponyville. However, there was a mountain smack dab in the middle of the desert. This mountain, combined with the water that evaporates from Ghastly Gorge, makes the desert north of the mountain far more habitable than its southern cousin, but still far from ideal.

“Interesting, Palomino Desert, what ponies in their right mind would want to live there?” Twilight questioned.

“Palomino Desert is right on the other end of Ghastly Gorge, I fly through there all the time. I had my pet race there, remember?” Rainbow dash commented.

“Do you ever fly around the Palomino Desert? Did you see anything suspcicious?” Twilight asked.

“No, I only have so much energy. I sometimes don’t make it all the way through the Gorge, let alone Palomino Desert.”

“Hmm”, Twilight put her hoof to her chin, “We have little to no information about this place, or any settlements in the area. We should make a trip to Canterlot to find out more about the area. Some of us can go to the library, and some of us can go to the princesses to find out about the possible populace,” Twilight suggested. I could tell the room had mixed reactions. Rarity was nodding her head in agreement, but Rainbow Dash looked discontent with the option.

“I agree, who will these groups consist of?” Rarity asked.

“Now wait a minute. Why are we wasting time going the opposite direction of the problem? Ponies may be in trouble, we need to help them!” Rainbow Dash argued.

“We can't be brash about this, Rainbow Dash. Last time we went in blind, we ended up in a brain washing facility without our cutie marks for two days,” Twilight counter-argued.

“That wasn’t any fun," Pinkie Pie added.

“I thought they were nice, except for Starlight Glimmer,” Fluttershy said. I was getting tired of beating around the bush.

“So what are we gonna do?” I asked

“I don’t know Applejack, the room seems pretty divided, what do you think we should do. Go to Canterlot and research ahead of time, my idea, or Rainbow Dash’s idea of charging in head first and hoping for the best?”

“Hey, I tried to act civilized, but if you want to go back to arguing at a time like this, I’ll gladly continue,” Rainbow Dash threatened.

Pinkie Pie decided to speak, “Well Twilight iiiiiiis the princess, maybe we should go to Canterlot?” she said.

“Of course, she’s the princess.” Rainbow dash got up from her seat, flapped her wings, and flew out of the room in an angry fit.

“Now did ya have to go and do that Twi? I thought we were trying to stop the fighting.” I said. I didn’t try to hold back my sarcasm. I was annoyed that Twilight just yelled at me for not helping stop the fight by breaking a promise, and then she goes and agitates Rainbow like that.

“This is more serious than her petty jealously, we need to think smart here. The rest of you, we’re leaving in the morning. Be at the station in time for the nine a.m. train. Could someone tell Rainbow Dash as well?” she ordered.

Everypony started to get up, but Twilight looked at me, and I could tell she wanted me to stay. Once everypony else was out of the room, Twilight started to speak.

“You just can't decide can you?” she said.

“What do ya mean?"I asked.

“I'm trying to keep our friendship together, and Rainbow Dash keeps insisting on pulling us apart. Maybe you could have helped by telling us why Rainbow did it, but as of now, I'm left in the dark. If you don’t choose a side, the Elements of Harmony will just keep drifting further apart. As the Princess of Friendship, I want to keep our friendship together. Rainbow Dash just needs to realize this stupid jealousy is worthless. She will never figure that out if you stay indifferent. I'll tell you what I told her at Rainbow Falls. Not making a decision, isn’t really a decision.” She got up and as she was walking away, she looked back at me one last time, her eyes filled with worry, until she turned back and exited.

I sighed, my shoulders sagged, and I looked towards the floor. Why do I always have to be in the middle of these things?