• Published 17th Dec 2013
  • 500 Views, 13 Comments

The Big Orange - Lexomancer

Celestia sends Twilight to Manehattan for some hooves on experience being a princess. Rainbow Dash comes along to make sure that Twilight gets used to her new wings. However, sompony thinks that she's supposed to teach Twilight to fly...

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First Impressions

The light spilling out the train’s only uncovered window lit up a solitary square on the tunnel wall. This patch alone amidst the inky blackness, showed how fast the train was moving. The stonework raced in and out of illumination, as if scurrying for the cover of darkness. The lavender colored pony staring out the window concurred with the masonry. I just want to race back to Ponyville, she thought. I don’t need all this attention.

She sighed as she ran her hoof through her main, brushing it past her horn. “Remind me again, why are we going to Manehattan?”

A chuckle sounded to the left of her. “’Cuz Twilight, Princess Celestia and Princess Luna agreed, t’would be a good idea for you to get some practice being a princess, somewhere they aint constantly lookin or’ your shoulder.”

Twilight turned to look the speaker. To the rest of the train car, it looked as if the orange pony was taking a nap. She had her tan Stetson pulled down over her eyes, and she was taking up an entire train bench, as she dozed on her back. Her blonde mane was bunched beneath her head.

Twilight turned back to the window. Of course Applejack is relaxed. She doesn’t need to impress all of Manehatten.

Applejack snorted, “Don’t you roll them peepers at me, Twi.”

Twilight looked at her friend again. The brown hat still covered Applejacks eyes.

“How could you possibly know that I rolled my eyes?” Twilight questioned. Twilight’s horn glowed pink, and a matching glow surrounded her friend’s hat. The hat floated off of Applejacks face, revealing that the farmer’s eyes were closed.

Twilight released the spell as Applejack grabbed the hat in hoof, and sat up.

“’Cuz I know you,” she replied. “Calm down, everything is gonna be A-Okay.”

Twilight looked her friend in the eye. “That’s easy for you to say.”

“How d’ya reckon that?” Applejack asked.

“Because, you aren’t going to be the center of attention,” Twilight cried. “Everypony in Manehattan is going to be looking at me. I’ll be hounded by ponyrazzi whenever I set a hoof outdoors. How in the hay, can I be calm.” Twilight covered her face with a fetlock. “Oh, if only they had consulted Princess Cadence, I might not be in this mess.”

Applejack chuckled again. “They probably did,” she answered, still laughing. “And I’d bet Sweet Apple Acers’ next harvest that Cadence said it was a grand ol’ idea.”

Twilight removed her foreleg from her face. “What makes you say that?” she asked, giving Applejack an incredulous stare.

It was Applejacks turn to roll her eyes. “Princess Cadence thinks you’re the best thing since apple cider.” Applejack placed a hoof over Twilight’s mouth when she tried to interrupt, and the continued. “And she’d a said that, e’en before she married that brother of yours.” Applejack removed her hoof.

Twilight took a deep breath, “I don’t know why she thinks so highly of me.” Twilight looked at the floor and continued, “I mean, she’s Princess Mi Amore Cadenza--”

“And you’re Princess Twilight Sparkle,” Applejack cut her off. She pressed a hoof to Twilights chin and lifted twilights head. When they were staring eye to eye, Applejack continued. “Your name may not be as highfalutin, but you’re a princess too now. You earned those wings, of yours,” she poked Twilight in the one of the mentioned limbs. “That makes you an Alicorn Princess.”

Twilight smiled at her friend. “Thanks Applejack.” Then Twilight’s expression, turned grumpy. “But, I still don’t understand why I need to go to Manehattan. I mean Canterlot is closer to Ponyville. Why can’t I practice there? Or just practice in Ponyville?”

Applejack smiled knowingly. “That there is precisely why.”

“Huh?” Twilight asked as she scratched her chin.

“Twilight, sugar cube, how do I put this tactfully?” Applejack asked. She stood, chin in hoof, as she thought. “Ah got it,” She said after a moment’s pause. “You get a mite twitchy when you think the Princess is passing judgment on everything ya do.”

“I do not,” Twilight said calmly.

“Oh reeeeeeeeeally?” Applejack asked smugly. The earth pony smiled widely, and continued, “I seem to recall a certain incident with a certain doll named Smarty Pants.”

Twilight pawed at the ground as a slight blush crept into her cheeks. “Oh…yeah,” she said abashedly.

“But that’s why I’m here,” Applejack placed a hoof on Twilight’s shoulder. “To help, ‘sides, it’ll only be for a little bit. She sent you here just to oversee some things, meet the Mayor and such. She didn’t intend for ya to move here.”

Twilight smiled at her friends sincerity. You can always count on Applejack to tell it how it is. “Thanks, I feel better. Though I still wonder why she picked Manehatten.”

“Oh, I can answer that,” a third pony interjected excitedly. Twilight and Applejack looked at the rainbow maned pegasus who had spoken up from the bench across the aisle.

“Really, care to enlighten us Miss Rainbow Dash?” Twilight said with mock decorum.

Dash responded in kind, sweeping a fore leg across her chest, while she bent the other one into a bow. “But of course, Princess Sparkle.”

Applejack nickered, “Y’all are so lucky Rarity aint here ta make a fuss about your lack of formality.”

Twilight shook her head. “I still can’t believe she roped Spike and Fluttershy into staying behind with her, to help her pack.”

“I can,” Rainbow Dash said with a roll of her eyes. “Flutershy can’t put her hoof down to save her life. Her friends lives yes, hers no.” Dash’s smile morphed into a smirk. “And everypony knows that Spike has a monstrous crush on Rarity.” Dash shook her head. “Any who, the reason we’re going to Manehattan, three words: the Manehatttan Cyclones.”

“Huh?” Twilight asked, a puzzled look on her face.

Applejack was equally confused. “The who now?”

Rainbow Dash shook her head, and gave Applejack a disappointed look. “I can make an exception for Twilight, but really AJ? I know you don’t live under a rock.”

“And I do?” questioned Twilight.

Rainbow Dash gave her a flat look. “Before you moved to Ponyville, yes.”

The princess got a sheepish look on her face, “I’ll concede that point.”

Rainbow dash brightened up as she got back on topic. “Anyway, the Manehattan Cyclones are Equestria’s premier professional acrobatic flying team. They are the best in their league. Canterlot and Cloudsdale aside, Manehattan boasts the best flight training facilities in all Equestria.”

Twilight was impressed, “Wow Dash, you seem really passionate about this…and knowledgeable.”

“Hold on a sec, partner,” Applejack scratched her head. “Aint you always going on about how the Wonderbolts are the best?”

Rainbow Dash shook her head again. “I said ‘The Cyclones are the best in their league.’ The Wonderbolts are so far above the Cyclones league that comparing them is even fair.”

Applejack still didn’t follow. “So then why are you so excited about them, if you want to be a Wonderbolt?”

Dash slapped her forehead with her fetlock, and drug it slowly down her face. “Really, you two need to follow sports more.” Dash began prancing in place, the light blue pony’s wings twitching anxiously. “There are several professional flying teams throughout Equestria; the Las Pegasus Harlequins, the Vanhoover Nightwings, the Phillydelphia Haleets, the Baltimare Finches,” Dash paused to take a deep breath. “The team to beat is always the Manehatan Cyclones.”

“But what about the Wonderbolts?” asked Applejack.

Twilight answered the question. “The Wonderbolts are Princess Celestia’s personal acrobatic flying team; she uses them to respond to emergencies when speed is of the essence.”

“Precisely,” agreed Rainbow Dash, as she smiled at Twilight. “They are more an extension of the royal guard than a sports team.” Dash turned back to Applejack. “If you look at the Wonderbolts roster for the past 60 years, you’ll see more members come from the Cyclones than any other flying team. Captain Spitfire herself used to be a Cyclone, once upon a time.”

Applejack whistled. “Whoa.”

Suddenly daylight burst through the window.

The three friends gathered to look at the hilly countryside rolling past.

Something odd struck Twilight. “Hey Dash, what do the Manehatan Cyclones have to do with us going to Manehatan?”

Rainbow Dash slapped her forehead again. “Sorry, kinda lost my train of thought.”

“Here it is!” cried a pink pony that was right behind them.

“AHHHHHH,” all three friends yelled in unison. Twilight’s new wings spread out in reflex, knocking Applejack and Rainbow Dash over, while propelling herself backwards across the Aisle.

“Ooops, sorry Dash,” the energetic pony enthused. “This is just a regular train. Don’t worry though, I’ll find your train of thought, or my name isn’t Pinkie Pie Private Eye.”

“Uh Pinkie,” Applejack stated, holding a hoof to her chest to make sure her heart was still beating. “That’s not your name.”

“Hmmmmmmm,” Pinkie said as she processed the comment. Her three friends were amazed she could stand still for that long. Everything about Pinkie Pie, even her poofy hair screamed vitality and gusto. “You’re right Applejack.” She then turned to Rainbow Dash, and with more vigor said, “Don’t worry Dashie; first I’ll change my name to Pinkie Pie Private Eye, then I’ll find your train of thought, or my name isn’t Pinkie Pie Private Eye.”

Rainbow Dash stood up and shook her head from side to side. “More importantly, how in the sweet name of Celestia did you pop out of nowhere like that?”

“I don’t know!” Pinkie answered happily as she bounced away from her friends. “Anyway, I’m going to go see how many cupcakes I can eat before we get to Manehattan, while searching for your train of thought.” With that, she disappeared in the direction of the dining car.

Once her heart stopped racing, Twilight re-asked her question.

“Oh yeah,” Dash started. “Princess Celestia wanted me to make sure you got some mileage on those wings of yours, so for the duration of our stay, I’m your flight instructor. We’re going to use every tool in the Cyclone’s training arsenal.”

Oh dear, Twilight thought.

The first thing Rainbow Dash noticed about the train station was the roof.
“Why would they put a roof over the train station?” She wondered out loud. “Pegasi would have a hard time flying in and out.”

“Manehatan is known for more than just its Cyclones,” Twilight answered, even as she admired the arched roof. She could barely see light coming in through the shielded ventilation slits. “Manehattan is the heart of pony fashion. If I recall from my readings correctly, the roof was added at demand of the fashion industry, so they could wait for a train in wet weather, without getting rained on.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Dash exclaimed, raising an exasperated hoof. “No group of sane ponies should care about their appearance that much.”

Applejacks eyes widened. “Oh, mah word. It’s a city full of Rareities. Ah swear, if ah hav’ to hear one more comment about mah hat…”

A passing stallion whistled. “Nice hat, good looking.”

Rainbow Dash and Twilight tried to contain their laughter as the crimson faced Applejack, pulled her hat low over her eyes.

“’kay, maybe if ah hear two more comments about mah hat…”

The trio walked through the enclosed station, Dash still chuckling.

“You should have seen the look on your face,” Dash said to the still blushing Applejack, walked down a nearby ramp. “What I wouldn’t give for a photo-”

A blinding flash of light and the sound of a shutter opening and closing, fulfilled Dash’s wish.

The khaki unicorn who took the photo, released his magical hold on the camera. It dangled by its strap around his neck, as he rapidly approached them. “Excuse me, Princess Twilight, Snap Shot of the Mannehatten Sun." His horn began to glow as out of his bag he levitated a pencil and a spiral notepad that matched the cutie mark on his flank. “I was wondering if I could have a quick word.”

This is exactly what I wanted to avoid, Twilight thought. “Actually-” she began to say.

“Perfect,” Snap exclaimed as he flipped open the notepad. “Would you care to confirm the rumors that Princess Celestia sent you here to replace Mayor Rook, as the official leader of Manehatten?”

“What?” Twilight was flummoxed. Her response seemed to get stuck in her mouth. “That’s not-I mean no-”

Snap steamrolled over her answer. “Is it true Celestia feels it’s time for her to take a more direct approach to controlling Manehatten.”

Twilight was mortified. She stared mouth agape at the newspony.

Applejack came to the rescue, stepping between the reporter and Twilight. “Listen, Twilight has had a long trip. She’ll be happy ta talk ta ya-”

Snap wormed his way around AJ. “Oh don’t worry Peachjill, I’ll interview you too.”

Applejack glared at the pushy unicorn, and stepped between him and Twilight again. “It’s Applejack, and-”

“Whatever,” snapped Snap. He moved to circle around, only to be blocked by a very irritated Rainbow Dash.

“What we’re saying is we never agreed to this interview, so take a-”

Snap stamped a hoof on the ground. “You can’t silence me.” He tried in vain to get past Twilight’s friends. “Ponies deserve the truth.”

“Didn’t sound like you care much about the truth,” Applejack replied as she stared him straight in the eye.

“Oh he doesn’t,” said another pony. “He cares about pushing whichever rag hasn’t fired him yet.” The four ponies turned to look at the newcomer, who had a coat several shades darker than Applejack’s.

He looks a bit uneasy, Applejack thought as she saw Snap’s eyes dart from side to side, looking for an escape route.

“Look, Lorain,” Snap oozed, trying to sound confident. “I have my press pass-”

“Which is good at a press conference,” the new pony replied, as she glanced around the entrance to the train station. “This is obviously not a press conference.”

Snap had the gall to not look sheepish, until Lorain dropped her bomb. “So if you don’t want to be banned from the Cyclone Dome for the rest of the season, I suggest you give me your film, and your notes.”

Snap flinched as if hit. “You’re bluffing,” he said with fake confidence. “You can’t do that.”

“I can’t,” she agreed. “But Captain Squall can.” Her turquoise eyes narrowed into slits. “And who do you think he will side with, hmmmm? Me? Or the yellow journalist who likes to take a run at his good buddy the Mayor every other week?”

Color drained from Snap’s face. With no further complaint, he tore a page out of his notebook, and the film out of his camera, and placed both in Lorain’s waiting hoof. Then with a mumbled, “I’ll see you at the press conference later this week,” he ran off, tail between his legs. The newcomer watched him disappear, and then turned to Twilight.

“Sorry about that, Princess Sparkle,” she said. “I was supposed to meet you at the platform, but I lost track of time.”

Twilight found her voice. “It’s okay…” Twilight paused.

“Lorain Cloud,” The orange mare replied. As an afterthought Lorain bowed, and tacked on, “Your highness.”

Twilight stared at the pegasus in front of her. She had mane that was a pale violet-red; it had been woven into a simple braid. A golden ring glinted at the bottom of the braid. Her tail was cropped much shorter than her mane, and was obviously windswept.

“It’s fine,” Twilight replied. “I’m just glad you got here when you did.”

Applejack punched the mare in the shoulder. “That was mighty impressive, how you handled that reporter.”

Lorain snorted. “I’d hardly call Snap a reporter; rumor monger is more like it.” Lorain glanced Applejack over. “You must be Applejack.” Lorain gave the earth pony a big smile. “Pleased to meet you.”

“Likewise Miss Cloud,” Applejack responded.

Lorain turned back to the princess. “So Princess Sparkle, would you like to see where you’ll be staying for the duration of your visit?”

“Well,” Twilight began.

“Or we could go to the Cyclone training facility. Get some practice in now.”

“Definitely the training facility,” Dash said excitedly.

Lorain looked at Rainbow Dash as they stepped out of the train station. “I don’t know why you would be exited to go there.”

Dash’s response was covered by an excited shriek.

“Couzin Applejack!” A blur of orange and salmon tackled the country pony.

“Oooomph,” Applejack grunted as she was hit. She looked down and realized that the blur was a young freckled filly with a dark orange coat.

The young pony stopped hugging Applejack, and took a step back.

“Cousin Babs,” Applejack said with joy. She then turned to her friends. “Twi, Dash, you remember mah cousin Babs.”

“Nice to see you again,” Twilight said with a nod.

“Hey squirt, give me some hoof,” Rainbow Dash extended her forleg.

Babs and Dash bumped hooves.

“Why didn’t you tell me you was comin’ to Manehattan?” Babs asked her older cousin.

Applejack rubbed the back of her neck, and looked at the ground. “Well, ah wanted ta surprise y’all.”

Babs chuckled, and punched Applejack in the shoulder. She shook her head, “Well you surprised us alright. Aunt and uncle Orange are out of town,” Babs Rolled her eyes, and blew a lock of salmon colored mane out of her face. “Somethin’ about their orange plantation.”

Apple jack gave her cousin a weird look. “Hold on; if'n ya didn’t know ah was coming, how come ya are down here by the station.”

“That’s simple,” Babs stated, as she blew futilely at the rogue lock of mane again. “Me and the other Cutie Mark Crusaders volunteered for liter patrol togeder.”

Applejack raised an eyebrow. “Liter patrol?”
Babs nodded vigorously, and yelled, “Cutie Mark Crusaders, liter patrol cutie marks!”

Applejack smiled, as she noticed the two other ponies flanking Babs, one of whom had joined in her yell.

Babs followed her cousins eyes. “Oh where are my manners?” She pointed to the filly on her left. “This here is Cashmere Flair.”

“Babs,” hissed young midnight-blue unicorn. “How many times do I have to tell you, call me Shade.”

“Who insists on going by her nickname, Shade,” Babs continued.

“You would to, if your parents were pretentious to name you ‘Cashmere’,” Shade muttered, under her breath.

Babs gestured to the bluish gray pegasi to her left. “And this here is Jet.”

Jet fluttered his wings, and nodded at Applejack and company.

“He doesn't say much,” Babs replied to her cousins questioning glance.

Jet stared at Babs with his aqua eyes.

“What?” asked Babs. “I didn’t say you were shy.”

Jet continued his stare.

“Don’t give me that look,” Babs responded. Jet continued to watch Babs, expectantly. “Fine,” Babs said, as she blew the mane out of her face again. “He wants me to say he’s not shy, he just doesn’t have much to say.”

Jet smiled and nodded his head vigorously. He then turned and started rummaging through his light gray bag.

Babs pointed at each of Applejack’s friends in turn, “This is Twilight Sparkle.”

Twilight waved, “Nice to meet you two.”

“Like-” Shade trailed off, as her eyes fell on Twilights wings. They shifted back to Twilight’s horn, and then again to the wings. “-wise,” Shade finished with a whisper, as she moved partially behind Babs.

Dash felt something touch her elbow. She looked down, to see Jet gently head-butt her again. He then stared at her keenly, a small notebook grasped in his mouth, a pencil in his extended hoof.

“Uhhhhh,” Dash stared at the young colt for a second, and then turned to Babs in confusion.

Babs Sighed. “He wants you to sign his note book. Something about you being the best young flier in the Young Flier Completion.”

Dash’s expression was replaced by a confident smirk. She tousled his mane with a hoof. “Sure thing kid,” She grasped the pencil with her mouth and balanced the notebook on one hoof. With practiced ease, she scrawled her name on the notebook, and returned the pencil and paper to Jet. “Anything for a young flier.”

Jet shook his head sadly, after tucking the pencil behind an ear.

Understanding dawned on Rainbow Dashes face. “Not yet huh?”

Jet nodded once, slowly.

“Don’t worry about it,” Dash replied positively. “I wasn’t always this awesome. You just need to be willing to put in the time when those wings can get you of the ground.” Rainbow looked Jet right in the eye. “Promise me you’ll do that; when you get off the ground, you’ll practice the other pegasi into the dust?”

Jet smiled, notebook still in mouth, and nodded vehemently.

Dash grinned widely, “Then you got what it takes kid.”

A look of shock crossed her face, as Rainbow Dash glanced from side to side. “Uh-oh guys,” she said with a touch of concern in her voice. “I think we lost Pinkie.”

“Don’t worry Dashie,” giggled a voice to her left. “I found you.”

Dash jumped sideways, and placed her hoof over her heart again.

Jet’s eyes widened as he jumped in the air, wings flapping furiously. He hovered for a second, and then fell back to the cobble sidewalk.

Dash smiled at Jet, “See, you’ll get there.” Dash then turned to Pinkie.

“Unfortunately, I have yet to find your train of thought,” Pinkie said, with the smallest of frowns. “But never fear, Pinkamena Diane Pie Private Eye is on the case. The lost train of thought shall not stay lost forever.”

Dash took several deep breaths to slow her racing heart. “That’s okay Pinkie, I’m sure it will turn up.” Besides, she thought, I’m not so sure how much searching my heart can take.

“Okie dokie lokie!” Pinkie exclaimed, smile back with a vengeance. She continued in sing-song, “but only if your suuuuuuure.”

“I’m certain,” Dash answered. She then turned to see Jet approach Lorain, notebook still in mouth.

Lorain shook her head with regret. “I’m sorry, little guy; I can’t sign that for you.”

Jet cocked his head slightly to the left, while opening his eyes as wide as possible.

Lorain shook her head again, her frown, bigger. “I still can’t do it. I’m sorry.”

Rainbow Dash walked over. “What’s the big deal?” she questioned. “It’s just a piece of paper and your name. It will take you all of five seconds.”

Lorain glared at Dash. “I wouldn’t expect you to understand, but it’s the rules.”

“Oh yeah?” Dash snapped.

“Yes,” Lorain replied curtly. “Captain Squall has a policy that outside of scheduled appearances, we are not to give out signatures. This way team members don’t get swarmed everywhere they go in public.”

It was the second time Rainbow dash had heard Lorain mention Captain Squall: something in her head clicked. “You’re a Manehaten Cyclone?” Dash questioned, in awe and disbelief.

Lorain took a shallow bow. “You are looking at the new Vice-captain of the Manehatten Cyclones.”

Applejack and Twilight both let their jaws drop at this revelation. Dash simply stared.

“In fact, that’s why I greeted you at the train station,” Lorain continued. She smiled at Twilight. “I have the pleasure of being your personal flight instructor for the duration of your stay in Manehatten.”

Author's Note:

Thank you to all who read this Chapter.

If you would be so kind as to leave a comment and let me know what you think, I would greatly appreciate it. While simply writing is one way to improve your skill as a writer, growth is always quicker when you receive feedback.

Finally a special thanks to FredrickCourage at Deviant Art, for the cover art. To all you curious ponies, yes that is Lorain Cloud.

Thanks again for reading, and I hope to see you again.

Happy reading,