• Published 23rd Nov 2013
  • 4,148 Views, 190 Comments

A Kingdom Divided - Samey90

For many years, Elements of Harmony were responsible for keeping peace in Equestria. But sometimes, magic of friendship is not enough...

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5. Scootaloo

If we survive danger it steels our courage more than anything else.
Reinhold Niebuhr


“Smile, Sweetie,” Featherweight said. “When we arrive at Canterlot, I’ll bring these photos to Equestria Daily, and maybe one of them will even become an Equestria Press Photo?”

“Then don’t tell me to smile,” Sweetie said. “I saw some photos which won earlier, and none of the ponies there smile.”

Featherweight said nothing, instead taking a photo of Scootaloo, who was lost in her thoughts and glared at him angrily upon hearing the snapshot.

“I wonder, why are we heading to the refugee camp?” he said eventually. “My brother said that there wouldn’t be a place for me in the military base, but, for example, Rumble’s brother took him to Canterlot. And your sisters live in the palace…”

“Applejack said that it wouldn’t be safe, the palace will probably be bombed first,” Apple Bloom explained. Sweetie Belle nodded.

“And how about you, Scoots? I totally thought that Rainbow Dash would take you with her…”

“Eat shit, featherbrain,” Scootaloo muttered.

“Scootaloo!” Cheerilee, who was walking behind them, scolded.

“I’m sorry, Miss Cheerilee,” the pegasus filly recited. “I promise this will never happen again.”

“It’s simple,” Diamond Tiara whispered theatrically, “No one, even her so-called sister, would want to have this pathetic, non-flying blank flank around… Aargh!” she screamed, when Scootaloo pinned her to the ground.

“Scootaloo!” Cheerilee shouted furiously, “What happened to you today? You’ll walk with me till we get to the camp.”

Scootaloo stood up and, muttering something under her breath, trotted to the back of the group, where Cheerilee was chatting with several Royal Guards who were escorting them. She then followed the rest, staring at the path in the middle of the forest, not looking at what was happening around her, when someone near her exclaimed happily:

“Hi, Thcooth!”

“Oh, hello Twist…” Scootaloo kicked a stone lying on the road. It missed Diamond Tiara, and hit Silver Spoon’s hind leg. The grey filly looked back, frowning.

“Are you ok, Thcootaloo?” Twist asked, leaning closer to her.

“Geez, Twist, have you ever heard about personal space? I don’t feel like talking, right?”

“Oh, thorry. Do you want a peppermint candy?”

Scootaloo sighed.

“Yes, please.”

For a while, they were walking silently, Scootaloo munching the candies (Twist’s saddlebags were full of them). The weather was warm, a gentle breeze moving the yellow leaves on the trees surrounding the dirt road between Ponyville and Canterlot. One of the Royal Guards was whistling some marching tune. Twist started to walk like a soldier during the review, not caring about the fact that she quickly lost the rhythm. Dinky Hooves, who was also walking next to Cheerilee, also started to jump, reminding Scootaloo of Pinkie Pie.

Poor filly, she thought. Her mother now serves as a mail mare in the army, and her stepfather is a captain of the same detachment Big Macintosh is in, but she doesn’t seem to care. Maybe if I were eight, I wouldn’t care about Dash leaving me too?

A distant roar of explosions almost caused her to choke on the candy. Her classmates and other foals evacuated from Ponyville - about thirty of them, aged from eight to fifteen - started to look around in panic.

“What was that?” Cheerilee asked the Royal Guard, a young black unicorn wearing a camouflage uniform.

“It’s from Ponyville,” he explained, looking nervously in the town’s direction. His voice quivered slightly and Cheerilee couldn’t help but notice that he wasn’t much older than some of her students. “I guess they’ve just started bombing.”

“Is it safe for us?”

“Yeah, we’re, like, two miles from the town. Soon we’ll met some guys with carts, and we’ll drive to Canterlot.”

“Why couldn’t we just take a train?” Scootaloo asked.

“We were afraid that the Moon Army could use it to get to Canterlot, so we bombed the railway, just in case,” another guard explained.

There were no further explosions, so they continued to walk, fillies and colts talking happily, as if they were on a field trip.

“Can you tell me, what trees we have here?” Cheerilee asked.

“Beecheth,” Twist replied, “Their leaveth thtay on the treeth during the winter and fall in the Thpring.”

“Good answer.” Cheerilee smiled. Diamond Tiara muttered something incomprehensible.

“Miss Cheerilee!” Dinky shouted, “There are some pegasi flying behind us!”

Cheerilee turned around to see two dark silhouettes on the sky, flying very low with the Sun behind their backs, so she couldn’t see them more clearly.

“Are they our pegasi?” she asked the guard.

“No idea. We’d better hide and wait till they’re gone.”

A group rushed to the side of the road, hiding beneath the beeches. Their yellow leaves provided a good cover for them.

Scootaloo realised that she was still far away from her friends. She looked at Cheerilee, who was now calming some of her classmates down, and decided to walk to Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle, when she heard a voice from the sky, a voice she recognized immediately.

“Carry on, Dust… There’s a field hospital nearby… We’re close…”

“Rainbow Dash!” Scootaloo shouted. Not caring about anything, she ran back on the road, waving her hooves. “Hey, Rainbow Dash, I’m here!”

“Thcootaloo, come back!” Twist shouted, following her. “Mith Cheerilee thaid that it’th not thafe to…”

“Rainbow Dash!”

“Why are you still carrying your bombs?” Rainbow Dash’s voice echoed.

The reply of the other pony was lost in an acute jeer of falling bombs, which soon disappeared beneath the trees and exploded on the ground, sending a lethal volley of shrapnel around. A sudden shockwave hit Scootaloo and Twist, overturning them and sending them into the ditch on the other side of the road. The pegasus filly recovered quickly and helped her classmate to get up.

“What… It’s impossible,” she muttered, getting out of the ditch, “Apple Bloom! Sweetie Belle!” she screamed, running towards the trees.

The view was horrible: as Scootaloo entered the forest, she almost tripped over Featherweight, who was trying to get up even though his wing was almost torn off. She ran further, slithering on the ground, wet from the blood. The Royal Guard she had talked to was lying dead on a pile of last year’s leaves. Her friends were nowhere to be seen. Cheerilee was resting against the tree, panting heavily and holding her hoof on a large wound on her side.

“Mith Cheerilee!” Twist screamed when she saw her.

“Run, children,” Cheerilee gasped when she saw them.

“Apple Bloom! Sweetie! Where are you?” Scootaloo cried, her voice echoing through the forest.

“Thcootaloo, look!”

“What… oh shit!” Scootaloo cursed, looking at the direction Twist was pointing. She saw Silver Spoon, apparently intact, sitting next to Diamond Tiara, lying in a pool of blood. Her limbs were twitching violently - a piece of shrapnel hit her in her right flank, in the place where her cutie mark used to be, and penetrated through her innards, eviscerating her and leaving a large, bloody hole in her abdomen. The fact that another piece of the bomb blew almost half of her head off could be almost considered a coup de grâce.

Three yards from them, another bomb was resting on the ground - a grey, menacing silhouette, ready to explode at any moment. Scootaloo, trying not to pay attention to the fact that the peppermint candies were now trying to leave her stomach, rushed to them.

“C’mon, Silver, we’re getting outta here!” she screamed. The grey filly embraced her dead friend’s body tighter, weeping loudly.

“Twist, HELP ME!” Scootaloo shouted, grabbing Silver Spoon’s tail in her mouth, trying to drag her away.

“No!” Silver Spoon kicked her in the face, stunning her for a moment. A black eye started to form on Scootaloo’s face. For a moment she considered leaving the grey filly and running away with Twist, but then she imagined Silver Spoon’s body, cut in half, lying next to Diamond Tiara.

I can’t leave her like this.

“She’s moving, I can help her!” Silver Spoon cried, embracing her friend.

“She’s dead! It’s just death throes! And you’ll be dead too, if we won’t hurry.” Scootaloo and Twist caught her firmly, dragging her, screaming and kicking from Diamond Tiara. When they reached the road, Silver Spoon stopped resisting. She galloped with them, crossing the road, and jumped into the ditch on the other side of it.

Another explosion tore through the air, sending a wave of shrapnel, splinters and leaves flying above their heads. Then the forest went silent.

“Let’s get out of here,” said Scootaloo. All three fillies ran into the forest, not watching where they were going. Low branches were hitting them, tangling into their manes, and scratching their faces.

“Girlth, wait!” Twist shouted, tripping over a branch. She collapsed, losing her glasses, and started to scrabble for them frantically. Scootaloo and Silver Spoon stopped in their tracks. Scootaloo went back to Twist, passing her glasses to her.

“So, what are we going to do now?” Silver Spoon asked. The traces of tears were still visible on her face, but the colours came back on it. Scootaloo looked around: nothing in the forest looked familiar to her. They were in some distant part of it, located at the bottom of a river that had probably dried up long before the Princesses were born.

“I don’t know,” she said helplessly, sinking on the groundcover.

“What? You were so eager to run, so I thought that you had some plan!” Silver Spoon shouted. Twist made a move as if she wanted to say something, but Silver only glared at her, and continued, “We could stay there and wait till somepony saved us, but no! You made us run into the forest, where we are lost, cold, hungry…”

“Yeah, it would be a good idea to stay,” said Scootaloo, standing up and walking closer to her classmate, standing almost nose-to-nose with her, and flapping her wings furiously. “Or to leave you there with your pathetic dead friend, so you could join her in Tartarus!”

“Don’t you dare talk like that about Diamond, blank flank!” Silver Spoon screamed at the top of her lungs, pushing Scootaloo away. “Not to mention that it was your friend who dropped the bomb on us!”

For a moment Scootaloo stood silently, as if Silver Spoon had punched her. She then screamed and darted forward, with bloodlust clearly written in her eyes. Twist caught her hoof before she could hit Silver and dragged the raging and scrambling pegasus away.

“I see you still love her,” Silver Spoon mocked. “You didn’t even stop to look for those two blank flanks you called friends!”

Scootaloo finally freed herself from Twist’s grasp and tackled Silver Spoon, knocking her glasses off her nose and tearing some hair from her braid. The grey filly hit back, kicking Scootaloo in the stomach, sending her flying into the nearby bush.

“You still reek of her piss, filthy mud pony!” Scootaloo yelled, recovering.

“Thilver! Thcootaloo! Thtop!” Twist shouted, standing between them.

“Oh, shut up, retard!” Silver Spoon said, putting her glasses back on her nose.

The forest suddenly grew so quiet that they could hear a pin drop. For a moment Twist was staring at Silver Spoon, her mouth agape, then she turned back and ran deeper into the forest, sobbing loudly.

“See what have you done?” Scootaloo approached Silver Spoon, who was now sitting on the ground with the same surprised expression as Twist seconds earlier. “You’ll go to her and apologize. Now,” she said in a tone that would make Cheerilee proud.

“I… I just don’t know…” Suddenly Silver Spoon bursted into tears, embracing Scootaloo in an awkward hug. “It’s just… Diamond…”

“Ok, Silver, be a grown filly…” Scootaloo sighed, patting her head. “Let’s go and look for Twist. It’s not the Everfree but still there can be bears, wild boars, and drunk lumberjacks here, so we’d better find her. And stop hugging me. You're still covered in Diamond bits, you know.”

They didn’t have to walk for long. Twist was sitting by a pond in the middle of the forest staring at the surface of the water.

“Umm… Twist,” Silver Spoon started weakly. Scootaloo gave her an encouraging look. “I… I want to apologize for calling you ‘retard’…”

Twist said nothing, instead continuing to stare into the water.

“Listen, Twist, I’m really sorry, it was just…”

“Yeah, and we’re not fighting each other…” Scootaloo added. Twist turned to her, her eyes piercing her like two daggers. The orange filly backpedalled, not expecting such a look from her normally timid classmate.

“She might be thorry,” she said, “But thtill, I am a filthy mud pony to you, Thcootaloo…”

“Hey, I didn’t mean you. I meant…” she paused, rethinking her quarrel with Silver Spoon. “Oh, I’m sorry Twist… and Silver. I just… I don’t usually consider myself better just because I have wings, I–”

“Don’t worry, Scootaloo. Apology accepted,” said Silver Spoon dryly.

“Ok, I’m glad we have this matter settled,” said Scootaloo. “But still we’re in the middle of the forest, it’s probably night, and I’m getting a bit hungry.”

“And it’s all your fault,” Silver Spoon added.

“Don’t get me started again!”

Twist stood up, again piercing Scootaloo and Silver Spoon with her gaze.

“Lithten girlth!” she said, “Before you thtarted your… foalish brawl, I wanted to tell you that Canterlot is eatht from Ponyville, right? And when the Princetheth stopped the thelethtial bodieth–” she stopped, and started to speak slower to control her lisp “–the Sun stuck permanently in the west, and the Moon to the eatht. When we ran away, we went thouth, tho we have to go north-east to get to Canterlot.”

Scootaloo and Silver Spoon were listening to her with their jaws dropped. Finally Scootaloo said, “So, to go east, we have to go, like, to the Moon?”

“To the Moon!” Twist laughed for the first time since they ran away from the bombs.

“Let’s go, then,” Silver Spoon said. She washed Diamond Tiara’s blood off of herself in the pond and was now shivering. “It’s getting cold here.”

Indeed, it was getting cold. Even though the sun was still visible above the horizon, it was Autumn, and the clouds left unattended by pegasi started to gather above them, covering the sky. There was a glow in the distance, as if something was burning, but the forest was dark and Scootaloo couldn’t get rid of a feeling that they were circling around it.

“Thtrange,” said Twist, “Another fallen tree.”

“Congratulations, you just discovered Zebrica,” Silver Spoon deadpanned. “A fallen tree. In a forest.”

“But there are too many of them, ath if there wath a tornado here.”

“So?” Scootaloo asked. “I’m so tired that I wouldn’t see a tree even if it fell on me. No offence, Twist, but I don’t give a… I don’t care about your tornadoes.”

She trotted a few steps, and laid down on the ground resting her head against a large piece of metal that was lying there, half-burrowed in the ground.

“Hey, Thcooth, what’th this?” Twist asked. Scootaloo looked at the thing she’d just tried to use as a pillow. It looked to her like a starfish made of metal, but with nine arms instead of five. Each of the arms, connected with copper pipes, had cooling fins on them, and there were the remains of a wooden propeller on one of the ends of the machine.

“It looks like one of those rotary engines that are used in the airships,” said Scootaloo. “I’ve read about them in the ‘Wonderbolts’ Magazine’.”

“How is it going to help us?” asked Silver Spoon. “Maybe you’re used to sleeping outside with a chunk of metal as a pillow, Scoots, but some of us are used to more comfortable conditions…”

“Why does everypony think I’m homeless? The foster home sucks sometimes, but it’s not like I live on the street,” Scootaloo said with a sigh. “Besides, silly filly, if there’s an engine, then the rest of the airship is probably also somewhere here. And that means the crew survival kit: tents, food, warm clothes…”

“Or the crew already took it with them,” said Silver Spoon.

They started to search the forest, looking for any sign of an airship, but all they found were some pieces of fabric hanging from the trees.

“Hey, there’s something here!” Silver Spoon shouted, pointing at the large pile of the boards, glass, and metal pipes.

“Looks like a rear part of the gondola,” said Scootaloo. She came closer to it, but suddenly backpedalled, fighting with nausea.

“Smells like a rotting corpse!” she gasped, feeling the taste of bile in her mouth. She spat it out, groaning with disgust.

“Where should that thurvival kit be?” asked Twist, who was checking the wheel of the airship – a large part of its gear was literally torn off from the gondola.

“Dunno, in the middle I think,” said Scootaloo, carefully bypassing the rear part of the fuselage, and searching through the scattered equipment, hoping that she wouldn’t find any body parts. She was tripping and falling constantly – she started to sneeze, her eyelids were closing, and the grumbling in her stomach was making her think about finding a gun and ending her suffering.

At least I’d see Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle again, she thought, watching the similarly exhausted Silver Spoon, with a dishevelled mane and a black eye, who fell on the ground, falling asleep in the middle of the walk. A brief thought about her friends opened a gate to the feeling she’d been repressing for the whole day: most of her classmates were dead, killed by Rainbow Dash and her wingpony, because the Princesses decided that their matters can’t be solved in any other way than war. A part of her wanted to curl into a ball and cry till death, while the other part wanted to go to Canterlot, and slit Celestia’s throat with a jagged piece of metal from the airship.

“I found it! I found it!” Twist’s voice sounded as if she was behind a thick wall. Scootaloo, feeling a new wave of energy, stood up and trotted to her.

A tent, large enough to provide shelter for five adult ponies, and small enough to be carried by a filly. Hard tacks, chocolate, and canned food. Two knives: a Griffonian Kampfmesser and a bigger one, with a curved blade, capable of cutting down small trees. A primus and a lighter. Sleeping bag and a set of blankets made of thick wool. Scootaloo and Twist were watching these items in awe. The former tore the hard tacks’ package with her teeth and began munching on them, while Twist went to wake Silver Spoon up.

Setting the tent up was more difficult than they had thought.

“Oh, come on!” Scootaloo groaned, trying to hammer the peg into the ground with her hoof. “It’s not fair that none of us can use magic…”

“Don’t start with ‘worthless mud ponies’ again, chicken,” Silver Spoon grinned, eating tomatoes from a can she had opened with the Kampfmesser. “Apparently, setting up tents isn’t something your cutie mark is telling you. Oh wait…” she ducked, and a peg flew over her head.

“Thilver Thpoon!” Twist scolded, “Come here and help uth inthtead of pigging out!”

“What did you say? I’m sorry, I can’t understand you.”

“Girls, stop!” Scootaloo shouted, seeing that the colour of Twist’s face now matched her mane. “Really, now I have to be a mature one?”

Without saying a word, Silver Spoon put the can of tomatoes on the ground, and trotted to the tent. She then pulled one of the ropes with her teeth, while Scootaloo pulled the another one, raising the tent. Twist found the peg Scootaloo had thrown at Silver Spoon, and hammered it into the ground, attaching the rope. Then they backed away, watching their deed.

“Well, it’th a bit off, but for me it’ll do,” Twist commented.

“Yeah, it’s not a fancy manor,” Scootaloo prodded Silver Spoon who gave her a nasty glare, “but at least it has a roof, and we have some food.” She picked a can of tomatoes, and fished out one piece from it. Twist crawled into the tent, took off her glasses, and wrapped herself into a sleeping bag and one of the blankets.

“You’re right, Twist,” said Scootaloo. “Time to hit the hay, and tomorrow we’re gonna think about what to do next.” She gave an empty can to Silver Spoon and took a sleeping bag with her. Soon she fell into a deep sleep, without any dreams, not feeling or hearing anything.

Not even Silver Spoon’s quiet sobbing.