• Published 9th Apr 2015
  • 1,245 Views, 74 Comments

The Golden Crusade - TheGreatEater



Sequel to Golden Wings. Scootaloo's secret is out, and top it off she's discovered she has some rather unique magical problems. It's a good thing Crusaders stick together.

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Reflections I

As Raindrops walked to the market, the world seemed to dissolve around her as her mind wandered to the events that led up to this moment. To think that a week ago, I was just helping out Ditzy and her kids while she recovered from the alicorn flu, working her mail shift, and ensuring she wouldn’t lose bits.

Then I met her. Scootaloo is quite something, and I see so much of myself in her. I’m just glad that she had true friends who kept her from making horrible mistakes, I’m able to help her out in my own small way. It cut quite a ways into my donation funds, but Scootaloo is more important than some charity. Any foal would be. I’m amazed at the ponies in Ponyville. They really came together for her, and soon she’ll go to a happy family, just like all the others.

At least she had a much better start than I did. Raindrops contemplated.

*12 years ago*

Mrs. Sugar Sweet was one of those ponies who knew how to ride the coattails of others, while soaking up the credit for herself. One who was a master of looking busy while doing nothing, and worst of all, one who knew how to play the system while those under her were terrorized by her antics.

Raindrops didn’t like her very much, and Sugar Sweet didn’t like her. She let Raindrops know that she was unloved, unwanted, and if she didn’t do as Sugar Sweet commanded, would be tossed out on the street. The snobbish mare had a greyish-brown coat like the filth in a grease pit, and an oily black mane wrapped in a bun. Her beady green eyes showed a constant disdain for her 'lessors', lessors being anypony not born with a horn on their head.

It was years later that Raindrops would learn what a tribalist meant. All she knew back in her early fillyhood was that her ‘caretaker’ was good at fooling inspectors, who only cared about what was written on paper, while being a spiteful hag to those under her care or in her employment.

But then again, as Mrs. Sugar Sweet was happy to point out every night, while tanked on cheap Sherry, “Canterlot was a unicorn city!”, usually followed by things along the lines of, “Any non-unicorn dropped off at an orphanage there was dropped off because their parents hated their existence, and they were lucky not to be tossed off the mountain or shipped to work in a mine for the superior race.”

It angered her that somepony like that was in charge of foals like her, and she was glad to get punished just to have her chance at making that ponies life as miserable as her little filly self could. Which, in hindsight, amounted to nothing, but at the time she felt empowered by her rebelliousness.

But today, she went too far. She committed the gravest sin any filly under that miserly wench with a princess complex could do. Sugar Sweet was a known tippler who owned a rather impressive amount of expensive sherries given to her by the ‘thankful parents’ of the social elite, rumored to be related to some rather shady deals involving misbehaving children who vanished from the home during the night.

Being on full display as they were in her office, it wasn’t that hard for Raindrops to filch the keys, and toss them into the laundry cart that she was in charge of that day. The hard part was making it to the roof, but that was more of a physical challenge than a worry of getting caught. After all, anypony other than a unicorn wasn’t worth noticing as long as she or he was doing labor for the matron. It took a few trips, but eventually she had her prize and knew just what to do with it.

If those ponies walking past the home were so happy in their superiority, she’d show who was really on top. Taking aim at the ponies below, walking along like mindless insects Raindrops reared her little arms back, using her primaries to line up her sights with a particularly wealthy-looking unicorn in a fancy suit… And completely missed her mark.

Still, the look on his face when the bottle shattered at his hooves and stained him with splatters of sherry... It didn’t take Raindrops long to abandon all thought of aiming. Sure, hitting one of those pompous bigwigs would’ve been great, but seeing them shriek and gallop off in terror was even better. The sight of them being as scared as she felt every waking moment of her life was beyond cathartic.

But like all good things, it had to come to an end. As soon as news of a crazed maniac accosting the wealthy with bottles reached the matron’s ears, the tyrannical matron tore apart the orphanage in search of Raindrops to enact her furious vengeance.

Eventually, Sugar Sweet discovered the unlocked roof door, and just a few feet away, a Raindrops, tossing the last sherry bottle onto the streets below. Fuming with barely contained rage, she roughly grabbed Raindrops' ear and dragged her off to her office. Dumping her in front of her desk, Sugar Sweet growled, “You know, you featherbrained waste of a life, I have tried being nice to you, only denying you two meals a day, giving you extra chores... I hoped that would discipline you.

“But just like the rest of your barbaric tribe, I can see there’s no reasoning with you. It’s one of the many things I hate about you flying feather dusters. I simply can’t talk sense to you, what with your head being so full of air.

“So, I’m finished with you. I told you I could toss you out on the street and nopony would miss you, and it’s true. I can keep drawing money from the crown on you for ten more years and nopony would know you don’t live here anymore. You wouldn’t be the first one I kicked out for being a horrible little cancer on the world.

“I’m doing everypony a favor by letting you die on the streets like your parents should have done to you instead of dropping you here. I’ll give you five minutes to pack up and leave. If you don’t, I’ll toss you out myself.”.

Raindrops smirked, her little wings flared out in challenge. “Wow, you like to hear yourself talk, don’t you? Face it, you can’t toss me out. If you do, ponies will see how horrible you really are.”

The adrenaline died down quickly as a predatory smirk grew on the matron’s abhorrent muzzle. Raindrops felt her anger turn to terror as Sugar Sweet's horn lit up. The door behind her was slammed open, followed by Raindrops as she slammed into the opposite wall.

Raindrops yelped in pain as her body hit one wall, then another, punctuating each of Sugar Sweet’s icy words. “You don’t get it. I know how to hurt you and stay out of trouble. It’s the word of a troublemaker versus a hard working mare. No one loves you. No one wants you.”

Raindrops was disorientated as the door to the orphanage opened up. “And no one will miss you,” were the last words she heard as she was tossed into the street. Shards of glass from her failed revenge tore into her coat, leaving jagged, bloody scratches in her flesh.

Raindrops looked around at the surrounding crowd. At first she thought they were watching, waiting for her to explain what happened, to form an angry mob and take care of Sugar Sweet once and for all... But they kept walking. Nopony stopped to look at the poor, ragged filly on the sidewalk. They just kept moving as if she didn't exist.

That’s when it hit her. Nopony did care. A part of her wanted to run back and ask forgiveness. Sure, she knew no one cared, since she had reached the ripe old age of eight and no one had claimed her like the unicorn fillies and colts. All the horrible things she had heard but didn’t allow to break her seemed a whole lot more real now that she was tossed out, hurting, and bleeding.

But with nowhere to go, she decided to pick a direction and run as fast as her legs could carry her.

*present*

I’m glad Scootaloo never had to go through something like that. But in way, I have to thank that spiteful hag. If it wasn’t for her, I would never have had the drive to find those like her and put them behind bars. I’m glad ponies like her are the exception rather than the rule in orphanages, but being tossed out was probably the best thing that happened to me.

A smile grew on Raindrops’ lips as she trotted over to the Apple family stall. In a way, the farmer’s markets in small towns like this were a blessing compared to mass produced food found in bigger cities. Not to mention the friendly atmosphere, and getting to know the ponies you get food from, not some faceless company dishing out food you can’t always trust.

“Howdy, Raindrops! What brings ya ‘round these parts this early in the mornin’?” Applejack asked, pulling Raindrops from her thoughts..

“I thought I’d come and do some light shopping while Scootaloo’s recovering. How are things with you?”

“Good enough. Nothin’ ta complain about, at least. So what were y’all thinkin’ about? Ya looked mighty deep in thought there.”

“Just how happy I am that Scootaloo is in such a loving village, and how quickly ponies pulled through for her. You really don’t see that in a whole lot of places,” Raindrops answered, beaming.

“Well that’s just how we are. We look out for each other,” Applejack replied, a smile of her own gracing her muzzle.

“So can I get myself some apple fritters, applesauce, and a few bottles of apple juice?”

“Sure, no problem, sugarcube,” Applejack placed the contents in a paper bag, and nudged it over to Raindrops, “That’ll be twenty bits.”

Raindrops gave her the bits and waved off as she trotted to her next spot in the market. Too think it’s only been a week since that filly’s entered my life, and it was all thanks to Ditzy getting the Alicorn Flu. If I hadn’t taken up her work, I wouldn’t have been flying on that route back home, and I would’ve never have met that little filly. How long would she have have lasted on the streets this coming winter? The next? Five years is five years too long for a filly like her to be suffering in the streets.

*12 years ago*

Raindrops had been living on her own for a few weeks now, and the first scheduled snow was falling on the streets of Canterlot. She had learned the hard way that Mrs. Sugar Sweet wasn’t lying. No one paid attention to a street waif, the pleas of a little pegasus filly were of no concern to them. But it was a common problem she would learn as she got older, ponies just had the habit of overlooking, neglecting, or in some cases outright ignoring the plight of foals. It’s what made the few Foal Protection officers so special, since it took a rare type of pony to want to watch over and protect the young.

But at the time, all she knew was that while ponies ignored her, it made it easier to steal and run before anyone noticed anything was amiss. But it didn’t matter. Now that she was shivering as the snow melted on her coat before getting frozen again in the cold weather, she tried to find shelter and was lucky.

A group of vagabonds sat around a warm barrel, keeping the cold at bay. They were a motley crew of of different races who shared the fact that they had fallen on hard times, as their dirty, and matted fur could attest to.

“Um… Can I join you?” Raindrops whispered, scared that she’d be chased away.

The leader of the group, a wiley-looking earth pony mare, with a shock of red mane highlighting her rugged face and dust covered peach coat, looked her over. With a smile and a throaty laugh, she replied, “Sure thing, short stuff. Can’t let a fellow drifter freeze to death.”

“Thanks,” Raindrops murmured, stepping closer to the barrel. It had been a while since anypony had showed her kindness of any sort, and she thought it would be nice of her to offer something in return. Emptying the contents of the ragged saddlebag she’d found in the trash, all had to offer was a chunk of cheese and a half eaten carrot. “Um, it’s not much, but I can share my food.”

“Nah, keep it, kid. It looks like you barely eat as is,” The mare joked, only to hear Raindrops stomach growl, “And it sounds like someone agrees with me. Tell me kid, when’s the last time you really ate something?”

Raindrops thought back. After she was kicked out of the orphanage, she tried dumpster diving, but it made her sick and that was something she couldn’t afford to do again. Afterwards she just stole food from vendors, that netted her a meal a day if she was careful. “Define ‘really ate something’? I think my meal before this one was… Yesterday. A bottle of milk, an apple, and some weird fish thing that somepony left on their plate on one of those outdoor patio restaurant things.”

She saw a rather sad smile on the group's faces as the mare came up and went to give Raindrops a nuzzle, but Raindrops shied away from it. The mare’s smile turned to a frown, and Raindrops was sure she was about to be tossed out away from the warmth for her transgression. Just like she was tossed out by Miss Sugar Sweet.

As the thoughts of getting quite literally tossed around by a unicorn flashed in her mind, she became quite aware that there were a few unicorns in the group. Whinnying in panic, she took a step back.

The mare looked at the two unicorns with a deeper frown, and crouched down in front of Raindrops. “Hey, hey little filly. It’s alright, hey, why don’t we go for a walk. I promise you, you won’t get hurt. Just a friendly little stroll. What’cha say?”

Raindrops was confused to say the least. but gave a nod, shoving the remains of her food in her mouth in case she had to bolt.

They trotted slowly next to one another, Raindrops a short ways away from the red maned mare. “By the way, my name’s Zesty Peach, but my friends call me Z.”

“My name’s Raindrops.”

“Well now, Raindrops, want to tell me which of those unicorns hurt you?”

“What do you mean?” Raindrops asked with a tinge of fear in her voice.

“I saw the look of fear you were giving them. Now before I go in hooves a blazing for a misunderstanding. I wanted to hear your side of things first.”

“Oh, it wasn’t them. I was just remembering…” Raindrops’ voice tapered off into a whisper.

“Ah, good…” Z shot Raindrops a look and clarified, “Not ‘good whatever happened to you’, just that I don’t have to snap their necks for hurting a foal. I wouldn’t want to think anypony in my little family could hurt a foal, but it's one of the few things that I don’t tolerate. So who did it?”

“I … I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Is it the same reason you were afraid of getting nuzzled?”

“Nuzzled?” Raindrops.

“You don’t know what nuzzling is?”

“Noooo … Should I?”

Zesty Peaches roller her eyes. “We’ll talk about it later kid. So you feel better?”

“A… A little.”

“Good. Now why don’t we go back? I promise, you won’t need to worry about a thing with us. We take care of each other, and it looks like you could use some pony to look after you as well.”

*present*

And they were a good family too. Sure, what they taught me was how to steal and work in the shadow of the law. And it was my fault that I got caught in a scheme I started. But I never turned them in, even though it was me who ended up in jail. It actually turned out to be the best thing that happened to me.

If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have ended up with Lieutenant Shimmering Breeze. Sure, I never told him about my family, neither the ones who tossed me away, or the ones that took me in, but I told him everything else, and in a way, he saved me. Both him and Z. I should probably check up on them next time I’m in Canterlot, at the very least I know Z’s been helping ponies like we were. At the very least I need to let her know I finally have a marefriend.

Raindrops squeed at the thought. It was just another blessing that came into her life after taking in Scootaloo. In her heart of hearts she knew that filly had a bright future. Even if Raindrops was only a stepping stone to Scootaloo’s future happiness.

Author's Note:

3 and a half months XD. Yeah, my editor was busy IRL, and it took a while to get this all edited. Sorry for the wait y'all. But this is still a pretty good chapter and one of my favorites to write so far. We see a bit of Raindrops' past and her time at the Orphanage. Hopefully it helps the audience connect with her, since I wanted to have a chapter that showed not only her past but two chapters [this and the next one] where we see her up close and personal. Rather than as a well meaning 2D personality goody-goody.

That and I've been wanting to tell that story [and her getting caught] for a while now. I was pondering if it had a high enough word count, but my editor thought it was a good spot to end the chapter. Well, hopefully it takes less time to write and come out with ToL, then this fics next chapter XD.

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