• Published 6th Jan 2014
  • 2,589 Views, 50 Comments

On the Wings of the Moon - ABagOVicodin



Nightmare Moon is reborn into Scootaloo. The most powerful reincarnation yet, Nightmare Moon plans an attack on Canterlot to raise the moon for the final time.

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Façades

“He came, he came!”

Usually the sun woke her up.

The pitter patter of young hooves assaulted Scootaloo’s ears, jerking her from her slumber as a riot of fillies and colts dashed out of their bedrooms. Purple eyes stared at the bunk bed above her, and she turned over in her bed, placing her pillow on her head to block out the excited cries and shrieks that melded into the ripping and tearing of wrapping paper. Scootaloo opened her eyes and stared into the darkness of her pillow. Her heart sank into her stomach, threatening to boil over whatever she ate the night before as she sat up and got out of her bed, lazily landing on her hooves.

Don’t get excited. Nothing is there for you.

Her heart beat quickly as Scootaloo passed the threshold to her room, only a few rooms away from the source of all the house’s chaos and noise. Scootaloo turned and walked into the bathroom, sighing as she pulled a stool to stand on. After she brushed her teeth, Scootaloo rubbed her eyes with her other hoof and looked down at the sink. Her attempts to clear her head failed under the grating sound of other fillies and colts enjoying their toys.

Something could be there for you. Rainbow Dash could have snuck something under the tree while the caretaker wasn’t looking.

Scootaloo spit into the sink and washed out her mouth, then stepped down from the stool and lightly kicked it under the sink. She walked out of the bathroom and back into the hallway, but stopped once again as a filly joined her. She smiled and held up her toy, a new Wonderbolts action figure of Spitfire, which blurted out whoosh and explosion noises upon the press of a button.

“Do you like my new toy?” the filly asked. “It was under the tree for me!”

Scootaloo smiled, gulping down the ice that just slid down her stomach, but failed to cool the redness in her forehead. She lowered her head and lightly chuckled.

“Heh… yeah…”

Scootaloo paused as she realized her lack of enthusiasm. As if a switch was turned on, Scootaloo smiled brightly and glanced at the figure. “It looks really cool!” she exclaimed.

Without another word, the filly levitated the action figure in midair, mimicking its sounds as she ran past Scootaloo and out of sight. Scootaloo limped down the hallway, the twisting pain in her stomach begging her to not look under the tree. Celestia only knew what she would feel if her suspicions were proven to be true.

Just take one peek under the tree. There’s nothing under there, but if you’re wrong, then at least you’re wrong for a good reason. Just one peek.

As Scootaloo grabbed the doorframe and peeked around the corner, she wondered if this is what Tartarus looked like.

Over a dozen fillies and colts zoomed around the room, new toys in hoof. As if in a toy store, every type of toy seemed to be on display for Scootaloo to watch. Some unicorns started to use their first chemistry set or read their new books. Other earth ponies threw a football back and forth. Last, but not least, pegasi foals jumped on a trampoline and performed tricks in midair before landing perfectly on their hooves, as if the Wonderbolts themselves had trained them.

Out of the corner of her eye, Scootaloo saw one present underneath the tree, a box as big as the width of her scooter. Her eyes widened.

It can’t be…

Scootaloo couldn’t make out the writing on the tag, and she sighed in relief at the lack of attention given to her as she stepped into the living room. The caretaker seemed to be busy, or at least, wasn’t in the room to notice her. Scootaloo kept her head down and inched across the room, heart echoing in her ears. She shut her eyes and squeezed them tight, hoping that she didn’t lose her balance or crash into one of the many ponies near the tree that were just trying to enjoy their toys.

It’s a present… the present could be for me… Rainbow Dash got me something!

Scootaloo’s forehoof tapped the box, and she opened her eyes.

To: Mrs. Kindheart
From: Your Very Special Somepony

Scootaloo’s knees threatened to fail her as the reality of the present sank into her mind. Her head began to sway as she stepped back from the present and slowly made her across the room, head hung low.

I… it’s fine. Maybe they just forgot, and they’ll bring presents later.

Scootaloo paused at the doorway and shut her eyes tight.

Don’t be so selfish, Scootaloo. Hearth’s Warming Eve isn’t about presents. It’s about spending time with your friends and family.

Scootaloo’s stomach boiled over, angry due to lack of food as she looked towards the hallway that pointed to the bedrooms, and the one bedroom at the end where the caretaker slept. Everyone was busy with their new toys, and the caretaker was asleep, which meant that she was completely off the radar. If she left, no one would notice.

Scootaloo walked to her room and grabbed her scooter, along with clipping her helmet to her head.

That’s fine. I can’t just sit here and have things come to me. I’ll just visit my friends and wish them a Happy Hearth’s Warming Eve! No presents required.

Scootaloo put on a hopeful smile as she walked out of her room and over to the front door. She opened it, allowing the chill of the Winter air to brush up against her muzzle. She then mounted her scooter, descended the porch steps, and zipped down the road.

I’m sure they have room for me!

~~~

The Unicorn residence has been vacated for the weekend of Hearth’s Warming Eve. This includes Rarity of Carousel Boutique. If you have questions about any orders, please leave a message and—

Scootaloo stopped reading and stepped onto the grass. Moving closer, she pressed her face against the living room window, trying to make out any silhouettes through the drawn curtains. Unfortunately, there was nothing to be seen in the dark house. The note seemed to be true to its word.

“Oh…”

Scootaloo stepped back from the window and looked back to the note. Reading it again, she hoped that she was in a dream. The truth however began to weigh firmly on her shoulders.

I mean… that’s fine. Sweetie Belle had family arrangements, I guess.

Scootaloo turned her back to the building and mounted her scooter again. She bit her lip and glided onto the dirt road towards Sweet Apple Acres. She rode significantly slower than back at the orphanage, barely traveling down the path. Her heart pounded in her chest, thoughts thrashing around in her head.

What if she’s gone too?

Scootaloo then shook her head and sped up, plastering a smile on her face. She kept her head down, mimicking a filly in thought. She was in public. She had to look like she was okay.

You can’t think that way, Scootaloo. One doesn’t mean three. I’m sure there’s a good reason for her absence.

Scootaloo’s vision began to blur as she spaced out, but continued to ride.

I do remember Sweetie Belle saying something about plans with her parents. But… why wouldn’t she at least come and visit to say good bye? I mean… she didn’t have to… I guess. But why wouldn’t she come visit me? Did I oversleep? Did she visit while I was sleeping and decided not to wake me up? No… Mrs. Kindheart would have woken me up if I had a visitor. That means that she didn’t come and visit me, even though she knows that I wanted to see her on Hearth’s Warming Eve.

Scootaloo slowed down to a mere walk as her ears drooped.

I guess I’ll see her when she comes back. Today sucks… but at least I have Rainbow Dash and Apple Bloom… right?

~~~

“Well I’ll be, Apple Bloom! These apple fritters that you cooked up are so good, I bet I could eat ‘em faster than you can cook ‘em!”

Apple Bloom giggled as she held out the fresh batch of fritters, an oven saddle protecting her back from the hot pan. One of her relatives grabbed a fritter with a napkin and blew on it, before popping it into his mouth.

“Thanks, Apple Juice!” Apple Bloom squeaked as all of the fritters were taken out of the pan.

“Mmm… oh Celestia, this reminds me of that story when Applejack decided to eat all of our fritters one day.”

“Ugh, we always have to hear that story,” Applejack replied as she stood near the hallway. “If we’re gonna tell it, why don’t we wait for everypony to get here so that you don’t have to repeat yourself?”

“I could tell it word by word!” Apple Bloom added as she rushed into the living room, another tray of apple fritters on her back.

Applejack stepped into the living room and smiled as all the Apples in the room focused on Apple Bloom. She rolled her eyes and laughed. “Fine then, Apple Bloom. Go ahead and tell them while I help Big Mac and Granny Smith with breakfast.”

“Sure!”

~~~

Scootaloo let go of the windowsill and fell onto her hooves as Apple Bloom began telling the story. She sat on her haunches and stared down at the ground. She clasped her scooter, hugging it with increasing ferocity as she endured the pain that shot through her forelegs from trying to squeeze it too hard.

I had a feeling that Apple Bloom had plans too.

The sound of hooves clopping in her direction made Scootaloo’s heart shoot up into her throat. She remained completely still, hidden behind the bush as two ponies walked past her. They approached the front door and knocked. The door opened and Scootaloo could hear Apple Bloom gasp.

“Braeburn! I didn’t think I’d see you until later!” Apple Bloom cried.

“Well, Summer got up a little early, so we caught an earlier train than we planned,” Braeburn replied as he laughed.

“Alrighty! Come on in!”

The door slammed shut and Scootaloo sighed. The winter air began to chill more than her fur as Scootaloo stood up and walked around the corner of the house. Her ears flicked up as she heard a groan through an open kitchen window.

“We gotta cook a little faster, Big Mac. I think Braeburn and Summer didn’t even eat when they got on the train.”

“Eeyup.”

Scootaloo sank beneath the kitchen window, eyes staring up at the windowsill. She could climb up onto it, but she paused and waited instead.

“Okay! Soups on!” Granny Smith replied as she rang a bell. Scootaloo heard one of the relatives speak, after the bell quieted.

“Woowhee! I hope you guys got enough food ready. 'Cause if the Apples are as hungry as I am, then you’re gonna be cookin' in here the whole day!”

Scootaloo sank against the wall, falling to her haunches as Applejack laughed.

“It’s fine, Apple Juice. You’re gonna miss the best part of the story if you stay in here! Here, take these fritters on your way out.”

“Eeyup.”

“Applejack! More fritters please!”

“Comin’ right up, Apple Bloom!”

Shoulda known that they would be busy.

Scootaloo stood up and stared at the front door. After a few seconds, she sighed and mounted her scooter.

I have no business being here. No matter how much I want to, if I’m just gonna be another troublesome mouth to feed, I can’t disturb them. I’m not family…

Scootaloo slipped out from the bushes and turned towards the dirt road. Her vision began to blur with tears as she pushed off with her wings, shooting onto into the dirt road and out of Sweet Apple Acres.

~~~

Don’t cry, Scootaloo. You’re a big girl… big girls don’t cry.

Scootaloo pressed her hoof to the ground, slowing down until the shadow of a familiar house in the sky enveloped her. She threw off her helmet and looked up at Rainbow Dash’s house. After wiping her eyes, she stepped away from her scooter, allowing it to fall to the ground.

“Rainbow Dash!” Scootaloo yelled.

No response.

A single rain drop fell onto Scootaloo’s muzzle as she waited. Five seconds passed, then ten. Scootaloo swallowed her emotions as she called out again, voice quivering.

“Rainbow Dash! Are you awake!?”

More silence.

Scootaloo began to sob. She shut her eyes tight and looked down at the ground, trying her hardest to keep the tears from sliding down her cheeks. As the clouds in the sky, well above Rainbow’s house began to sprinkle onto her, Scootaloo fell to her haunches again.

“Please, Rainbow Dash! You have to come out!”

Scootaloo’s voice grew hoarse as she called out again and again. She sobbed and blinked a tear onto the ground as the Winter chill began to envelop her. She laid down on the dirt, allowing the rain to assault her form as she stared up into the bottom of Rainbow’s house.

“Why me?” Scootaloo simply asked as a particularly big raindrop splashed on her eye, forcing her to close it. “Why today, of all days? My friends, and my soul sister are too busy to spend time with me. Is there something wrong with me? Is it because I don’t have a family, and they don’t want to admit it in front of their families that they are friends with an orphan?

“Am I just a friend that they hang out with because they have nothing better to do?!”

Scootaloo stood up and looked around the field surrounding her. She saw a rock and picked it up, before she yelled in rage and threw it towards one of the nearby trees. The rock pinged off of the tree and fell out of sight. She seethed with rage as she stood still, looking between Rainbow’s house and the road that lead back into Ponyville.

“Do they hang out with me out of pity? All of them? What kind of loyal sister are you!?”

Scootaloo grabbed her scooter and looked up at Rainbow’s house. She threw her scooter up in the air. It soared in an arc before it crashed back to the ground, not even close to touching Rainbow’s dwelling.

Scootaloo heard a gasp behind her and she turned to see a couple standing on the dirt road, the color quickly leaving their faces. Scootaloo stepped towards them, growling as she glared.

“What do you want!?” she asked.

Without any words, the couple sprinted away, disappearing out of sight.

Scootaloo seethed in anger, but her posture quickly began to straighten as she looked over at her scratched scooter.

No one’s gonna be your friend if you lash out like that.

Scootaloo walked over to her scooter and picked it up, along with her helmet.

“You’re being selfish. Your friends have business to attend to. It’s Hearth’s Warming Eve, they’ll find you eventually.”

She mounted her scooter again and sighed as she stepped onto the road out of Ponyville.

“They’ll come looking for me when they are done with their plans. I might as well be useful and practice my flying.”

With a heavy heart and soaked body, Scootaloo started down the road, eyes on the ground as the crackling of thunder failed to penetrate her thoughts.

~~~

They never came, but at least the rain could keep her company.

Moonlight illuminated the filly’s form, putting it on display for any that watched as she jumped off the stage. She struggled, her wings keeping her in the air for seconds before she cried out and fell onto a puddle of mud, burying her face into it.

Scootaloo sobbed and rolled onto her back, rain tickling her face. She kept her eyes closed. As if a spotlight to her inadequacy, the light continued to shine down upon her as she sat on her haunches and wiped the mud off her face. She looked up at the moon and felt her eyes water from Luna’s elegant display of beauty.

Was the moon always like this, a perfect paragon of beauty? Not even the rain clouds dared to block its radiance, as if it was a mortal sin to do so. Did Princess Luna even think about the child that she had the privilege of raising? The white sphere, despite the imperfections upon its surface, was able to perform its job since its inception. Apart from the few times when chaos decided to reign over Equestria, the moon had never failed its subjects.

Scootaloo looked down at the ground as she fluttered her wings, not expecting any effect except for the water to shoot off of her wings, only to be wet with the rain again.

“I wonder if Rainbow Dash knows what it feels like to touch the stars,” Scootaloo mumbled as she bit back her sobs.

But I’m me, you’re you.

A pegasus your age that can’t fly?

Scootaloo stood up and walked back to the stage, ascending the steps to bring her a few yards off of the ground. She spared a glance behind her towards the backdrop, bit her lip and faced forward as images of streamers tied around her wings flashed across her vision. The stage would be moved back into storage soon since the recent Hearth’s Warming Eve play was over and done with. She remembered attending, but the memory of what it was about escaped her. She looked down at the grass and mud, her pupils turning into pinpricks from the numerous imprints of her face in the ground. The pain in her wings told her that she had been out here for hours, but Scootaloo merely flared her wings once more and stared ahead.

“I’m me… and she’s her… That may be true, Rainbow Dash. But you know what I am? A flier!”

Scootaloo shot off of the platform and hovered in the air, soaring sideways until she descended almost instantly and crashed into the muddy ground once more. A cold draft chilled the tears that collected in her eyes as she raised her head again, mud dripping from her mane and head. Scootaloo sobbed and wiped her nose with a hoof as she stood up again.

“What’s the use?” Scootaloo asked the rain that continued to beat against her. Scootaloo shivered and turned towards the platform again, but a shooting pain in her foreleg dropped her to her haunches when she tried to take a step.

“OW!”

Scootaloo sobbed as she nursed her leg and rolled on her side. Her face began to heat up in anger.

“Ow… why… why now?”

Scootaloo glared at the illuminated platform once more. Her entire body shook as she seethed in a cocktail of anger and depression. Her accusation turned towards the moon above her as it remained in the sky, unhindered by her pain.

“I can’t rest,” Scootaloo muttered as she rose to her haunches, only to pathetically fall to her side again with a wail of pain. “I’m not done… I’m not ready to quit!”

She slammed her good forehoof into the ground and buried her head into a nearby pile of mud so that she could scream. Her anguish and anger reverberated through the ground, melding into the surrounding trees. Scootaloo slammed her forehoof again and again on the ground, caking it in mud.

Scootaloo’s muzzle dripped with tears, mud, and snot. She pulled her head up and tried to speak, eyes on the moon.

“I just want… to fly! Is that so much… to ask!?”

She closed her eyes and gripped her mane, nearly pulling her hair out. The rest of her head was covered in mud as she screamed at the top of her lungs once more, all manner of composure lost.

“Why does everypony else get to fly!? I don’t see a unicorn that can’t do magic or an earth pony that isn’t stronger than the other foals!? Why do I have to be the broken record!?”

“You’re only as broken as you believe yourself to be.”

Scootaloo screamed as a bolt of lightning struck in the distance, illuminating a shadow behind her. She rolled backward to face the shadow, only to see a cloaked pony facing her. The stallion's/cloaked pony's crimson hues chilled her to the bone. A shiver traveled down her spine, making her shiver and tremble in ways that the rain could not match. They weren’t the hues of a pony, as far as she knew. His pupils resembled those of a cat. His voice carried no threat, sounding exactly like a regular stallion, so perhaps he cast a spell to change his eye shape? Scootaloo did recall Diamond Tiara talking about changing the color of her eyes with magic, a recent fashion that has been spreading throughout Canterlot. Whether this stallion did that or not, she couldn’t see any part of this pony in the darkness besides his eyes. Scootaloo crawled a few paces away, fear plastered across her face.

The stallion took a step towards Scootaloo and lifted his hoof, but the cloak and surrounding darkness left it as an enigma.

“My apologies, little filly. I shouldn’t have snuck up on you.”

“How did you find me?” Scootaloo asked in a panic as she continued to inch away from him. She crawled back into the moonlight and spared a glance towards the road that lead back into Ponyville.

The cloaked stallion hesitated, but remained still. Scootaloo did notice his hoof drop back to the ground. “Well, little filly, you weren’t exactly being quiet out here. I’m sure ponies a mile away could hear your screaming.” The pony paused. “Would you mind telling me why you are outside in the rain, this late at night? I doubt that your parents would allow you to be out this late.”

Scootaloo’s heart felt like it was being stabbed with an ice pick. The pain throbbed in her chest and spread throughout her body, threatening to empty the lack of contents in her stomach. Instead, she gulped down her emotions as her wings pressed against her back.

“That’s none of your business,” Scootaloo replied. “Did you ever think that maybe I’m out here, away from Ponyville, so that I don’t have to talk to any ponies?”

The figure hesitated, but his response was cool and collected.

“Ah, but Miss…”

The figure waited for Scootaloo to fill in her name, but after a moment of silence, he continued.

“It's not safe for a filly to be so far from home at night. I do not wish to lecture you. I only speak as a pony that worries for your safety.”

Scootaloo shivered as she gripped her injured foreleg and shot him a cold glare. The stallion’s second step towards her only seemed to chill up her body even more.

“I don’t need your pity. I can take care of myself,” Scootaloo replied. Right as she spoke, a chill rushed through her body and she shivered, her wings rubbing against her coat to try and warm themselves as her teeth began to chatter. Only then as the mud on her face began to chill, did she wipe her face clean and throw the mud onto the floor, granted with a little help from the rain. Again, the stallion’s words didn’t miss a beat.

“I never suggested that you couldn’t,” the stallion replied. Scootaloo saw the shadow shift in stature, but only his eyes remained visible. “I don’t know you, but from the looks of it, I’d say that you know how to take care of yourself more than anypony else that I know.” The stallion paused. Scootaloo noticed his eyes traveling up and down her mud and rain soaked form. “Did you bring an umbrella or rain coat? You look chilled to the bone, Miss,”

Again, Scootaloo remained silent.

“N… no… I didn’t bring anything,” Scootaloo replied, the chilly air finally getting to her.

“Ah… I see.”

A few seconds of silence flowed between the two ponies, broken only by the light wind and rainfall. Scootaloo interrupted right as the stallion was about to continue.

“I meant to not bring it, though,” Scootaloo added as she stepped back onto her fours, wincing as she lifted most of the pressure off of her hurt hoof. “I’m training myself.”

“Oh?” The stallion hummed with interest. “And what are you training for?”

“The… Wonderbolts,” Scootaloo lied, as she gulped down the guilt that spread throughout her chest. “I have a friend who is in the Wonderbolts. She told me the training that they have to go through, and one of the obstacle courses includes a rainy night.”

If she wasn’t keeping up a facade, she would have sighed in relief as the burning sensation in her stomach began to ebb away, ameliorated by the half truth that she injected into her improvisation. The stallion seemed intrigued, as the darker shadow near his eyes tugged at his cloak.

“I see… you don’t seem like the kind of pony that would...”

“Fly?”

Another pause.

Scootaloo could have sworn that the stallion’s eyes burned into her wings. She flared her wings against her back and stiffened her stance, despite the pain that radiated through her hoof.

“Is there something wrong with that?” Scootaloo asked as she gritted her teeth. “What, you think that just because I have short wings, I wouldn’t be able to fly? Is that it?!”

“Not at all.”

Scootaloo softened her posture as the pain on her forehoof became too great. She felt tears blind her and she closed her eyes and burst into a fit of sobs as the myriad of emotions continued to swirl through her. The stallion took another step towards her, the moonlight illuminating the grey bottom of his trimmed fetlock.

“Please tell me what is the matter, little filly. A pony like you shouldn’t be this distressed on Hearth’s Warming Eve.”

Scootaloo hunched over as she continued to sob, tears melding in with the rain as a blast of lightning shot off in the distance, but the moment of light did not provide her with much vision, apart from the mud in front of her.

“I just… want one thing to go right…” Scootaloo muttered as she sobbed, but still remained loud enough for the stallion to hear. “I have been practicing for years… I’m ready… I know I am… and yet… I fail every time…”

“To fly?”

Scootaloo nodded and burst into a crying fit, covering her eyes with her hooves as she heard the stallion come closer, if only with one step. Both of his forehooves were in vision now, his silver horseshoe radiating the moonlight onto her chest. He paused as his chest came into full view, albeit it was completely covered by his cloak, along with the rest of him.

“Little filly… you’re freezing in the cold. I wish to give you my cloak, but you have to promise not to scream.”

Scootaloo nodded again, her face still covered as she sobbed. Within seconds, she felt the warmth of a cloak around her shoulders. With hesitation, Scootaloo lowered her hooves and looked up, and had to quickly jam her foreleg into her mouth to avoid screaming.

A flesh and blood batpony was staring directly at her. Despite only being about as tall as Rainbow Dash, Scootaloo’s heart nearly stopped as she met his eyes. Despite how tall and menacing he looked in the moonlight, his crimson hues were filled to the brim with worry. He stopped, hooves hanging near her neck, as if asking for permission from the filly that had nearly turned white. That didn’t stop her from nearly reeling in terror. Her instincts begged her to turn tail and run from the stallion, but she remained still.

He’s different… just like me.

“Thank you for not screaming,” the stallion said as he fastened the cloak around her neck. His smile seemed to only accentuate the momentary terror that shot through her, but was quickly melting away like marshmallows in hot chocolate. “It’s not every day that a pony like me is able to see a filly like you.”

“The handicapped kind?” Scootaloo asked as she bit back her gasps.

The stallion shook his head. “A pegasus, a pony that is not of my species.” His smile warmed as he held out a hoof to help her up, which she accepted. “I’m sorry if my form startled you. I thought that my eyes would be a dead giveaway as to my race, but I guess not. I should have been more clear.”

The stallion’s slightly somber tone was immediately relieved as Scootaloo waved away his apology.

“N… no… it’s fine. I promise.” Scootaloo smiled. “I’m not scared. You’ve been nothing but nice to me, while I've been rude to you. I’m sorry.” She held out a hoof. “My name is Scootaloo, what’s yours?”

The batpony paused as he stared at her hoof, his own slightly raising from the ground.

“It’s not my hurt hoof, if that’s what you’re wondering,” Scootaloo added, which prompted the batpony to grasp and give it a small shake, before retreating his hoof back to the mud. The rain was beginning to let up a little bit. However, the chilly wind continued to brush up against both of their bodies.

“What’s your name?” Scootaloo asked.

“St… Star Struck,” the batpony replied as he looked up at the moon. “The rain is letting up. Perhaps this is the time where I take my leave, and you can get back to your training.”

Star Struck walked over to the road and looked around, searching for any pony that could possibly watch her just in case she fell one too many times. There didn’t seem to be anypony around, and he wasn’t surprised. He turned back to Scootaloo and extended his wings for take off.

“Wait!”

Star Struck turned his gaze back to her and folded his wings against his back, confusion splayed across his features. “What is it?”

“Don’t you want your cloak back?” Scootaloo asked. “You’re soaking wet.”

Star Struck chuckled and shook his head. “Not at all, it’s yours. Happy Hearth’s Warming Eve.”

Scootaloo’s eyes widened and she gasped as her healthy hoof pulled the cloak against her face. It smelled like the night air… the kind that cleaned out a pony’s lungs when they walked outside and enjoyed the fresh air. It smelled amazing. Scootaloo began to tear up.

“You’re the first pony to give me a present today… there weren’t any under the tree when I woke up.”

“Well that is quite the shame. If I knew you beforehoof, I would have made sure that you woke up to something. Did your parents get you anything?”

Scootaloo bit her lip and looked away. “N… not really.”

“Not really?” Star Struck repeated, confused once more. “Were you only given half of a gift?”

Scootaloo bit back a sob and sniffed, hoping that she could hold onto her composure despite the pain that began to flare back up in her chest. “I don’t… I… I live in an orphanage…”

Star Struck paused as the color in his face drained away. “I… oh.”

Scootaloo nodded. “There was nopony to bring me any presents today. That’s why I came out here. If I didn’t have any presents to play with, or any visitors… or… anything else to do...”

Scootaloo paused, looking to the ground for a moment as she held back her tears, desperately trying to forget the feeling of being abandoned by her friends on Hearth's Warming. “Then I might as well work on my flying.”

“Scootaloo,” Star Struck began, with a little more authority. “You’re soaking wet, freezing, and you look like you’re going to pass out. You need to go home before you hurt yourself… or get sick.” Star Struck motioned to the stage with his hoof. “This will be here in the morning. You could always practice tomorrow.”

Scootaloo quickly shook her head, but winced as the pain in her forehoof shot up her spine. “I… don’t want to go back home. I just… anything but there…” Scootaloo’s eyes widened and she smiled as she limped a little closer to Star Struck. “Can you fly me to your house? I doubt that Mrs. Kindheart will notice if I’m gone. I’ve gone on so many adventures during the night, I already know how she works. As long as I’m in bed when she wakes up, I’ll be fine.”

Star Struck shuffled his hooves along the dirt, obviously troubled with Scootaloo’s suggestion. “I don’t know… we’ve only just met, Scootaloo. Are you sure that you want to go to a complete stranger’s home?”

“You’re not a stranger. You’re the only pony that gave me a present this year, Star Struck,” Scootaloo muttered with a sigh. “You’re a very nice pony, and I trust you. Can we?”

Star Struck looked from the moon to Scootaloo and back again, still not completely convinced. Nevertheless, he sighed and dropped to his haunches as his webbed wings spread to the sky. “Alright, let’s go.”

Scootaloo gasped. “Really?!”

Star Struck nodded and smiled. “Only for a little bit. My house isn’t exactly built for children.”

“Alright!” Scootaloo walked over to Star Struck and hugged his chest, smiling as she wrapped her forelegs around his neck. Her injured hoof immediately shot back to her side and she moaned in pain. “Ow…”

Star Struck secured a forehoof around Scootaloo’s back and held it with his other hoof to avoid hurting her injury. He looked down to meet Scootaloo’s gaze. “Oh… your hoof… don’t worry, I’ll fly slowly,” he reassured as Scootaloo nodded.

“It’s fine,” Scootaloo mumbled as she cradled her hoof to her chest. “I’m just happy to be able to fly somewhere, even if it is because of you.”

With a few powerful flaps of his wings, Star Struck began to ascend into the air, his grip tightening around Scootaloo’s hind legs to make sure that she remained still. With her view limited to the sky above, Scootaloo began to space out. The stress on her aching joints began to ebb. As she nestled into Star Struck's warm fur, Scootaloo finally found herself able to relax for the first time that day. Her eyes began to slowly narrow in exhaustion as the day’s events caught up to her. It barely took another two minutes before Scootaloo passed out in Star Struck’s hooves.

~~~

The warmth was heavenly to wake up to.

Her eyes opened to gentle hues and a flood of warmth coursing through her body. Her body no longer shivered or felt the licks of night air freezing her wet fur down to the core. Star Struck held out a steaming mug of hot cocoa.

“Thanks,” Scootaloo mumbled as she sat up and stretched while holding her hoof out for the cup. She glanced around the room in order to get a feel of her surroundings as she took a sip. The moonlight from the entrance to his room illuminated the wooden table in front of her, and Scootaloo set her cocoa down on it. She could make out a bookcase against the wall next to the entrance, barely illuminated by the moonlight, along with a wicker chair in the other side of the room. Scootaloo knew that there was much more to this room than what she was seeing, but the cramped feeling and low light of the room did not dissuade her from staying. The excess warmth and mystery of the room only further entranced her.

“I’m sorry that I don’t have a light or anything in this room. I didn’t exactly plan to bring a pegasus here,” Star Struck said with a smile.

Scootaloo shook her head, “N… no it’s okay. Sometimes, the dark is the best,” she replied as she raised the mug to her lips to sip the hot cocoa. “My room at home is best when it’s in the dark. That way, I don’t have to see that there’s not much in it.”

A chill flowed through the room as Scootaloo saw Star Struck look towards the exit, as if trying to think of something to say.

“You… don’t seem to have a healthy view of your home. Is there… something you would like to talk to me about?”

Scootaloo looked down at her mug of cocoa, and took another big sip without speaking.

“You didn’t sleep for that long, and we still have a while before I have to take you back home. I know you only met me an hour or so ago, but if you need somepony to talk to, I’m right here,” Star Struck said, not taking the hint.

Scootaloo reached forward and set the cocoa on the table, before she straightened herself and sighed. A small reminder of her nightly efforts shot up her back. She winced before relaxing as she lied against the armrest. “I guess that’s part of Hearth’s Warming Eve, talking to ponies that care about you. And… I’m tired of talking to myself.”

“What is it that upsets you?” Star Struck pulled his chair in closer and stared into Scootaloo’s eyes. “You seem so… closed off… so distant.”

Scootaloo bit her lip as her wings flared, giving her a small view of them before they folded against her back. She closed her eyes and looked down.

“For once… I wanted to do something right,” Scootaloo mumbled, barely loud enough for Star Struck to hear. “Today… I feel like I hit rock bottom. I woke up to no presents under the tree for me, my ‘friends’ are too busy with their families to say hi, and my role model is probably off somewhere, enjoying her awesome life. Then I go outside Ponyville to practice my flying, and after a whole day and most of the night, I fail and fall on my face every time. Now here I am, in the house of the only pony who paid any attention to me today, somepony who I just met. But I…” Scootaloo gulped back the unrest in her stomach, lower lip quivering as she tried to continue. “I’m exactly the same as the day I was born… a chicken… a dodo.”

Star Struck nodded as he placed a hoof underneath his chin. “Unable to fly?”

Scootaloo nodded as well, and she took a moment to sip some cocoa. “I’ve gotten better at riding my scooter… but to ride it… I have to use my wings that don’t work. Every time I get up on my scooter, I’m reminded of what I can’t do, because what I can do isn’t enough.” Scootaloo bit back a sob. “It never is.”

“Hmm, do you think that you would ride your scooter better with wings?” he asked.

“I would do everything better with wings,” Scootaloo replied, almost too quickly. “My idol, Rainbow Dash, is one of the best fliers in all of Equestria. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up… but when she was my age, she already did a Sonic Rainboom and got her cutie mark in the same day! Me on the other hoof… I’m still a blank flank… and no more closer to flying than I was when I made my friends.”

Star Struck nodded once more as he shifted in his chair.

“I know how it feels to be a blank flank, Scootaloo,” Star Struck said as he leaned into the moonlight, providing Scootaloo with the glimpse of his right flank. It was completely blank.

Scootaloo’s eyes widened as she ran a hoof across her own flank. A small pang of dread began to spread through her stomach at the idea of ponies growing up without cutie marks.

“How are you—”

“Batponies don’t get cutie marks,” Star Struck replied as he sank back into his chair. He stared directly into Scootaloo’s hues before he smiled and sighed. “We are pretty much in the dark, no pun intended, when it comes to searching for our special talents.”

“Wow,” Scootaloo replied. A flicker of warmth spread through her chest as she smiled for a brief moment. Her new friend was just like her. Her smile quickly diminished as she looked back at the chair. “But… at least you still get to fly.”

Star Struck paused, before he decided to change the subject.

“I wonder, Scootaloo… why are you so focused on flying? Perhaps you weren’t meant to fly, perhaps that’s your destiny.”

“If not flying is my destiny, then I might as well stop living right now,” Scootaloo muttered, unable to meet Star Struck’s eyes. Her eyes began to fill up with tears, and she covered her face with her hooves. “Everything that is wrong with my life… could be solved if I could fly. I could follow in Rainbow Dash’s footsteps, or get a job and save up enough money to move out of the orphanage. I wouldn’t have to worry about my cutie mark being the only thing that doesn’t pin me as a completely useless pony. My life would open up if I could fly. I could explore new parts of my life. I could go to Cloudsdale and make some real friends, instead of those jerks. They didn’t even bother to send me a card. No ‘Happy Hearth’s Warming Eve, Scootaloo’ or anything. And don’t even get me started on my supposed ‘soul sister’. She can buck off too.”

Scootaloo’s face began to burn with anger as tears slid down her cheeks. Star Struck’s expression remained impassive.

“I’m tired of being useless. I want to be somepony. When I woke up to find no presents underneath the tree for me, and busy friends that didn’t have time for me, that’s when I realized that I was a nopony. Everypony in the orphanage had something for them, except for the flightless pegasus blank flank. And then when the blank flank goes outside and spends an entire day trying to practice how to fly… she falls on her face, every time. I know I’ve had better days than this… but when they are so rare… it’s hard to stay positive when I feel like I’m getting nowhere.”

Star Struck lowered his hoof and stood up. He walked over to the couch and sat next to Scootaloo, who moved as far from him as possible. He sighed.

“I can see where you are coming from, Scootaloo. There are a lot of things that a batpony will never be able to understand or experience, simply because they are born as one. Do you know the legend of Nightmare Moon?”

Scootaloo nodded.

“Then you know the punishment that befell Princess Luna. With her gone, the batpony race suffered a lack of leadership.”

“Princess Luna was the leader of the batponies?” Scootaloo asked as her jaw dropped.

Star Struck nodded. “Yes, she was. Much like you are a subject of Princess Celestia, because you are a pegasus, the batponies are subjects of Princess Luna. Anyway… we lost our leadership. We were confused and Celestia ostracised us for believing in Princess Luna. As such, we were accused of nurturing her transformation into Nightmare Moon. All we wanted was equal love towards the night.”

Scootaloo’s eyes widened and she lowered her hooves to look at Star Struck. “Miss Cheerilee never told us about that during history,” she mumbled.

“I didn’t expect her to,” Star Struck replied with a sigh. “It’s like the old saying goes: history is written by the victors. I’m sure you’ve felt this before in your life, when someone spreads lies about you, lies that you could have proven wrong. That happened with us. We were written out of history because we supported Luna at a time when she was universally reviled. They blamed us for Princess Luna's transformation into Nightmare Moon, and my dear little filly, the grudges held by Celestia last for generations.”

“That’s horrible,” Scootaloo mumbled. “How come no one knows about this?”

Star Struck shrugged. “We never speak to Daywalkers. That’s what we call you. Or the Lucky Ones. Take your pick.” He looked down as his ears flopped down onto his head. “The Daywalkers never helped us in our time of need. They went along with what Celestia wanted, even though it was the catalyst of our banishment. The few batponies that Princess Luna took to Ponyville were silent for a reason. They didn’t want to speak to those who did not help.”

Scootaloo frowned, her blood boiling with each sentence that Star Struck uttered. “That’s not fair to you! If every batpony is as nice as you, then why can’t we talk to you?!”

Star Struck shrugged. “I think you of all people would know that life isn’t fair.”

Scootaloo sighed and moved over to Star Struck. She wrapped a hoof around his hip and gave him a huge hug. “I’m sorry.”

Star Struck’s eyes widened at the sudden hug, and he smiled lightly as he placed a hoof upon her own to keep her close. “It’s fine. I’m just glad that I got to meet you.”

Scootaloo broke the hug and looked back towards her wings, before she huffed and stood up. She began to pace around the room.

“This isn’t working. Talking about my problems is only making me wish for what I don’t have.” Scootaloo stared at the cup of cocoa and sighed. “I just wish… I could find my cutie mark so the bullies at school would leave me alone. I wish I had friends that would always be there for me when I need them.

"I wish I had a nice, warm house where I could live with my loving family instead of in that dang orphanage. I wish I had a loving family…” Scootaloo looked away from the cocoa and stared at the floor, eyes threatening to leak tears. “I wish I had a family at all. I can’t even have a trusting soul sister.”

Scootaloo then looked to her wings and brushed a hoof across both of them. Her wings fluttered in response, but she knew that she wasn’t going anywhere. “More than anything else, I just wish I could fly! I want to fly to Cloudsdale and walk around without needing somepony holding my hoof. I want to feel the clouds beneath and between my hooves when I land or shape them to my liking. I want to learn how to do stunts in midair, so that I could turn a flight towards Ponyville into a show. I’d love to take a vacation. School is off for a few weeks, and I want to go to the Crystal Empire… or even farther. Trains and blimp rides cost money, but if I had wings, the world would be mine to explore. I’d be the only one in my way.”

Star Struck smiled as he licked his fangs, which momentarily glowed in the moonlight before he closed his mouth.

“Perhaps,” Star Struck lifted a hoof underneath his chin for dramatic effect, “you could fly.”

Scootaloo stopped and turned to Star Struck, staring with disbelief as she edged to the other side of the couch. “What do you mean ‘I could fly’? You and I both know that I can’t.”

Star Struck stood up and walked over to to a wooden bookshelf, full of tomes and volumes that Scootaloo could barely make out in the darkness.

“There is a ritual… that can provide a Daywalker with batpony wings. It’s a modified version of the ritual that created the first batpony. They pledged their undying loyalty to Princess Luna... by turning into a creature of the night. Then all it took was word of mouth before Princess Luna had a race of followers.”

Star Struck pulled a tome out of the bookshelf and placed it onto his back. He then flared his wings and turned to Scootaloo. His expression seemed morose, and Scootaloo couldn’t imagine why. She was going to be able to fly! She could grow batpony wings and fly, possibly with him if he wanted!

Scootaloo’s eyes widened again as her heart skipped a beat. “Really?”

Star Struck nodded and lifted his head, showing his widening smile.

“I’m glad that you have accepted this gift, Scootaloo.”

Star Struck walked over to the table and placed his book upon it. He left it closed as he turned to Scootaloo, and pointed a forehoof at the cocoa. “Are you sure that you don’t want to finish your cocoa?”

Scootaloo shook her head, smiling as she passed a glance towards the book, before she stared back into Star Struck’s eyes. “No thank you. It was good, but I think I’ve had enough.”

Star Struck’s smile seemed to lessen as he glanced at the cocoa, but he said nothing more. He smiled again as he turned back to the book, opened to the bookmark, and promptly removed it.

“Alright,” Star Struck began as he licked his lips. “We don’t need anything besides the book for this ritual, thankfully. All I need is for you to focus on your feelings.”

Scootaloo felt a cold tingle travel up her body. She took a hesitant step towards the table, the unfamiliar ritual making her uncomfortable. Usually in the comics and stories, rituals were never a good thing. Yet, she was going to get what she always wanted. The ritual had to be good… right?

Scootaloo’s mind focused back on the task at hand.

“Focus on my feelings?” she asked.

Star Struck seemed slightly annoyed that Scootaloo was questioning him, but he nodded his head as he placed his forehooves together.

“Yes, Scootaloo, your feelings. The ritual is powered by your emotions, Scootaloo, your desire. Think off all the things that make you want to fly: the bullying and ridicule, the shame, and the lack of control over your own life. Think of every face-plant you made in the dirt today just trying to fly. Think of that and hold it close to your heart, Scootaloo. Focus on your feelings and your transformation will be over before you know it,” Star Struck replied in a haste, his face contorted to mirror his impatience.

Scootaloo nodded and closed her eyes while Star Struck began to mutter the incantation and sign with his hooves. A translucent blue aura enveloped his hooves, stars glimmering and flowing within it. The stars created miniature constellations, black holes, and supernovas, only to reform back into more stars. The efflux began to envelop Star Struck, emitting crackles and sparks. Scootaloo jumped as the sound of pure energy popped and hummed. Star Struck’s eyes took on the color of the aura.

“Mistress Moon, hear my call… I bring you a body to cleanse your fall.”

Scootaloo’s eyes widened as she tried to take a step back from Star Struck, only to find that her body was immobile. She laughed nervously and stole a glance behind her at the exit. The moonlight upon her began to glow even brighter, becoming almost blinding. She blinked and covered her eyes.

“What are you doing?” she asked as the moonlight began to increase in intensity. The light began to burn her, spreading pain throughout her. It shot up her frame, as if she was being boiled alive by the moonlight. She fell onto her side and convulsed while Star Struck stood on his hind legs, eyes filled with a manic laughter as his smile widened to impossible proportions.

“It’s getting to be that time, little filly,” Star Struck muttered as he pantomimed pouring the aura into one hoof. The energy concentrated into his right hoof, leaving the other empty as it continued to dangerously crackle and spark. He began to mutter more incantations as his bare hoof glowed crimson and orange. It looked like lava was dripping off of his hooves as it continuously flowed onto the ground and disintegrated, only to be recycled back into his hoof. “Look at me, Scootaloo.”

The heat from the moon slowly melted to nothing and Scootaloo slowly opened her eyes to see Star Struck, now standing on his table. His manic smile glowed in the aura of light as he laughed. He licked his fangs as his pupils dilated, leaving them more than mere slits in his eyes.

“LOOK… AT… ME!”

Scootaloo shivered and whimpered as she looked up at Star Struck. Her eyes glistened with tears as she tried to inch away from him. Star Struck stepped off of the table and towards her. He slowly and maliciously placed one hoof in front of the other as he steadily came closer.

Star Struck waved his right hoof over his flank. The fur simmered as grey fur gave way to the bright colors of a cutie mark.

“You foals are way too easy to trick,” Star Struck cackled a maniacal laugh. “A little grey paint and some darkness, and you’re as clueless as Celestia when it comes to my plans!”

Scootaloo quivered in terror at Star Struck’s sudden change in demeanor. She opened her mouth to scream, but it lasted hardly a second before her throat was crushed in a telekinetic grip. She wrapped her hooves around the force that was choking her. Tears slid down her cheeks as she gasped for breath. Then, Star Struck slammed her onto the floor and pushed her onto her back.

Star Struck chuckled again as the red light faded, instead replaced with the blue incantation as he stepped between her and the entrance.

“You see, my little filly, I’ve been watching you ever since I saw you at Nightmare Night. I was one of the stallions that rode down to Ponyville, and the moment I saw the fear in your eyes, I was curious. They were not ameliorated by the company of your so-called friends. You were alone and fending for yourself that night, once that Granny Smith pony was out of the picture. You were all alone as you walked home. You had nothing, and I’m glad to see that it hasn’t changed. You’re a filly that is running out of rationalizations for her terrible life, and it’s beginning to affect you. I could see the angst and anger in your eyes that night. You enjoyed your little trick and treating, but the moment your friends left you, the facade came down. I followed you, watched you since that night, because I wanted to see if you could be the catalyst for my plans. The one that could bring forth a new world order with the second coming of Nightmare Moon.”

Star Struck pointed his hooves in Scootaloo’s face. The aura licked and flicked at her muzzle, singing some of her hairs to a crisp. He stamped on her chest, knocking the wind out of her.

“I watched you sneak out of your orphanage room night after night as you tried to find meaning in your otherwise pathetic life. I could feel the bitterness and depression dripping off of you, even though you hid it from those wastes of space that you call your friends. You have nothing to your name, besides the scooter that you don’t even want to use anymore.”

Star Struck smirked as he raised his hooves over his head, the discharge crackling like lightning as it flicked and licked the stone walls. The energy shot out, chipping off a piece of the wall as Star Struck almost lost his balance. His pupils dilated in surprise as the energy flicked again, shooting near Scootaloo’s ear before it retracted back into his hooves. His forelegs looked like he was pushing against a wall as all of his muscles contracted, veins bulging in his legs. The aura was quickly becoming too overwhelming for him to contain.

“But I’ll…”

Star Struck gasped as the energy shot out towards him, but it only flicked his shoulder. He continued. “I’ll save you from your misery, Scootaloo. I am your best friend… and I will turn you into so much more. Just close your eyes, little filly, and it will all be over soon enough.”

Scootaloo felt tears slide down her cheeks and she cried out as she tried to escape from under his crushing hoof.

“Please!? I don’t want to die!” Scootaloo begged as she stared up into merciless eyes with horror. “I’ll do anything! Please!?”

“It is not death, if you are reborn as something bigger… and better. We’re gonna make history, Scootaloo, you and me.”

Star Struck lifted his hind hoof from Scootaloo’s chest and rubbed her cheek, but the emotion in his gesture was absent. It was merely a formality, as if shaking hooves.

“I wonder if before your parents died, they told you not to talk to strangers. Not that it matters… Now close your eyes, Scootaloo.”

With her heart racing in her chest and her stomach about to empty in front of her, Scootaloo closed her eyes and sobbed as the crackling ball of cobalt energy was brought down onto her body. The last thing she felt was a small sucking feeling on her forehead as the energy sank into her chest. His glowing, crimson hues were the last thing she saw before the light left her eyes.

Author's Note:

Thank you for reading, and have a wonderful day.