• Published 16th Nov 2013
  • 3,330 Views, 211 Comments

Perception - Valen



Scootaloo is alone. She's failed her family, her friends, her destiny - everything. Running away from her problems, Scootaloo lost herself in the sprawling city of Las Pegasus. Now, her life is meaningless... until a letter arrives from Ponyvill

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Chapter 1: Grey

Perception

~~~

“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?”

~~~

Chapter 1: Grey

Grey.

The world around me was a dull grey. Monochrome, colourless, whatever you want to call it. That was my life. On all sides, the featureless walls of my prison surrounded me. Well, prison being the warehouse where I worked. In this case, though, ‘worked’ was a very loose term. I wasn’t sure what they kept here, but whatever it was, nobody was really interested in it. Most days, all I did was sit back and toss my ball at the wall.

That, incidentally, was what I was doing right now. I shifted slightly—repositioning my wings to get more comfortable—and adjusted the worn brown scarf that hung around my neck. I smacked the small red ball with my hoof, watching as it bounced off the floor, into the wall opposite me and back.

With practiced ease, I batted it again. This was my life; wake up, eat, get dressed, head to the warehouse, do nothing for eight hours, go home, eat, sleep. That was what it had been for over a year and—by the looks of it—what it always would be.

I knew there wasn’t much of a point anymore. I was trapped. I’d missed my chance, now that the cutie mark which I had strived so hard to obtain was just that. A mark, nothing more, nothing less. There was no grand destiny waiting for me, no beautiful future where I would fly into the sunset, a blazing trail of stardust behind me. No, I’d lost my chance at that.

A clatter shook me out of my thoughts. I looked to my left to see what had fallen, but before I could find it, something hit the right side of my face. My head whipped around to find the attacker, only to see my ball, bouncing lightly on the floor. Shaking my head, I turned back towards the source of the sound. My rifle had fallen from its spot, propped up next to my crate.

Back when I had first received this job, when it seemed more like a blessing than a condemnation, I had claimed this section of the warehouse as mine to watch over. A single, large, blue crate had become my centre of operations. Now, all it represented was a place to sit down and reflect.

What’s become of me? I thought miserably, glancing out of one of the boarded-up windows into the wet streets of Las Pegasus. The weather seemed to reflect my mood: dreary and depressing. Before my train of thought could lead me to darker places, a gruff voice called out to me, from somewhere behind my rows of crates.

“Hey Scootaloo? Where’re ya?” I shook my head again, banishing those thoughts to a little closet in the back of my mind. Grasping the fallen rifle in my fetlocks, I righted myself, pausing to grab the fallen ball and shove it in a pocket with one of my wings. I quickly pulled myself into an attentive stance. Wouldn’t want the boss to see me slacking off now, would I? Despite how boring this place was, it was my only source of income.

A second later, Slate rounded the corner. Slate was a monster of an earth pony, standing at least a head taller than me. He wore a grey jacket which obscured his cutie mark. His fur was black and he had a messy brown mane. His eyes were hidden behind dark shades. Catching sight of me, he grinned. Celestia, how I hated that grin.

“Hey there, kid. How was the shift?” he asked, sidling up to me. If he wasn’t my boss, I would have decked him right then and there. Unfortunately for me, he was my boss, and I wanted to get paid. So instead of decking the fool, I satisfied myself with a glare in his direction.

The earth pony laughed. “You really need to lighten up. Anyway, your relief is here—you can head out now.” I nodded my thanks, before trotting off as fast as possible without making it obvious I was trying to escape. No matter how much he annoyed me, I wouldn’t let Slate win. As soon as I had made it a few rows away, I let out a content sigh, happy that he wasn’t following me.

I adjusted my scarf again, before continuing on my way out, passing rows upon rows of crates, along with the occasional member of security. I nodded my head in greeting towards them, but didn’t stop to talk. I never did: like me, these ponies didn’t want anypony prying into their lives, and I respected that. They just wanted to work, be paid and get on with their lives.

After about ten minutes of weaving my way through row upon row of cargo, I finally made my way to the entrance. The warehouse doorway was little more than a huge piece of metal, attached to various pulleys and chains that I had never bothered trying to understand. All I cared about was the fact that they opened the door to my freedom.

With a grin, I bucked the large iron lever and watched as the door slowly began to rise. Whenever the harsh gears grinded together, I remembered when I had first arrived at the warehouse. I had been terrified that the door might collapse on me at any moment. After over a year of working here, however, I had gotten used to it. The grinding was no more worrying than the swinging of the crane, or the creaking of the wood. It was all part of my day-to-day life.

I strolled out the now-open doorway, entering the bustling, wet streets of Las Pegasus. Ponies dashed about to and fro, off to whatever important thing they had to do during their day. The sky was beginning to get dark. I glanced upwards and was once again confronted with that overwhelming greyness.

Scowling, I began to trudge through the rain. What has become of me? I thought again. What is my purpose? It was on days like this that my mind started to throw these questions at me. I loathed it. The question turned over in my mind, prodding me, asking for an answer.

“Just buck off!” I yelled in frustration, kicking a nearby bin—its contents spilling out into the street. Why wouldn’t these stupid thoughts leave me alone? Why couldn’t I just go about my Celestia-damned life in peace?

“You okay, miss?”

“What’s it to you!?” I snapped at the source of the voice, a stallion, glaring daggers in his direction. Suddenly, I was very aware that every set of eyes around were on me. Not wanting to be there any longer, I turned around and walked off.

* * *

I was breathing heavily. I had ran straight home after my outburst, and was now leaning my head against the door of my apartment. I could feel anger welling up inside of me. I was such an idiot! That pony had just been trying to see if I was okay, and I had thrown his kindness right back in his face!

“What the buck, Scootaloo! What’s wrong with you!?” I shouted, angrily slamming my hoof against the door. I was just about to tear into the wooden portal before a thought crossed my mind:

What would Rainbow Dash think?

Immediately, I calmed down, the anger replaced by a cold void. If Rainbow were here, she’d tell me to chin up and not let it get to me. She’d tell me as long as I kept striving to do better, the small mistakes didn’t matter. She’d tell me I should never give up on anything. That I should always chase my horizons, not to prove anything to anyone, but just because they were there…

My eyes traced their way across my apartment’s living space, coming across a picture set on my dresser. I trotted over to it. The picture was of a cyan pegasus mare with a striking rainbow mane. She was posing, a charming yet stupid grin plastered on her face. Next to her was a small pegasus, an orange filly with a messy magenta mane. The filly was doing her best to mimic the rainbow one’s pose, but she was just slightly out of position.

I reached out to touch it, but pulled my hoof back before I could, fearing that I might disturb the moment. I closed my eyes, and turned away. I didn’t want to think about this right now. I was too tired. I slowly started walking to my bed, stopping to carefully take off my scarf and place next to a pair of flight goggles on a box nearby. However, before I could enter the warm confines of my bed, I noticed a brown envelope just in front of my door.

Huh, weird. I must’ve missed that when I came in. Shrugging, I picked it up in my teeth and took it over to my table. Now that I could properly see it, my eyes glossed over the envelope, coming to a stop when I saw where it had been sent from.

Ponyville?” I exclaimed out loud, my voice cracking a little. I hadn’t talked to anyone from Ponyville in years, not since… well, it wasn’t important. What was important was that someone had managed to track me down, since I hadn’t told anyone where I was moving. I didn’t want them to know. Suddenly, I felt very guilty. I had abandoned all of my friends, for what? A life as a warehouse guard in some back-end of Las Pegasus?

Grimacing, I trotted over to my dresser again, looking for a knife to open the letter with. As I did so, my eyes caught sight of another picture: this one was of three young mares, all of them looking nearly sixteen. The orange pegasus from the previous picture was present, alongside a yellow earth pony with a red mane and a white unicorn with a swirly purple and pink mane. The earth pony wore an old stetson, and was grinning happily, whilst the white unicorn was draping herself over the pegasus, laughing brightly. The pegasus had a grin similar to the charming smile of the rainbow mare from the previous picture.

The image had been taken in happier times. What’s done is done I thought. No point crying over it now. Quickly locating the knife I had been looking for, I took it over to the desk and slit open the letter. With a flick of my wings, I had pulled out a sheet of parchment and was reading it through.

The letter was from Sweetie Belle, detailing how she was sorry that she hadn’t talked to me for so long. My guilt returned ten-fold. Just like Sweetie. Always thinking the best of other ponies. Taking the blame when it’s not even her fault. My eyes continued down the page, before stopping at the last couple of lines.

“No…” I whispered, my voice hoarse, as the knife fell from my grip. My legs felt weak, I couldn’t breathe. It was as if my fragile world had finally come crashing down. I was terrified; my heart felt constricted, like it was being cruelly twisted. “No, no no no!” I repeated the word like a mantra. This can’t be happening!

But it was. No matter how much I hated it, this was happening. Hay, it may have already happened.

Apple Bloom was dying.

* * *

Dear Scootaloo

I’m so sorry for not writing to you for such a long time. Things in Ponyville have been hectic, but especially now. It’s Apple Bloom. She’s... she’s dying Scoots. We need you here in Ponyville as soon as possible. Please come home, we miss you.

Love, Sweetie Belle.

* * *

Author's Note:

Well, this story is quite a few 'news' for me. I've never written in first person before, never written romance before, never written sad before, and never written a full-length story before. Yay! So, I hope you all enjoyed this chapter, and will stick with me for the rest of it. On that note, I'll be looking for artists willing to do an image or two which will go with a later chapter, so if you think you are up to the task, send me a message! Also, anyone who is highly experienceed with romance and would be able to give it a quick look over, or let me bounce ideas off of. Thanks for reading everybody!

EDIT: Letter image provided by Pegasister Teagan
A few minor changes, and removal of the old pagebreak for a less disruptive one.