• Published 21st Sep 2018
  • 1,046 Views, 97 Comments

meanwhile...: Tales of the Berylverse - Shinzakura

Part of the Berylverse. There are hundreds of stories out there. Not all of them are Sunset's.

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“A pet?” Twilight Velvet asked.

Rubbing her chin in thought, Chrysoberyl nodded. “It’s a relatively new approach in child psychology that I’ve been reading up on, and I think it would be a novel way to help Octavia through some of her issues while potentially reducing her need for the Malarson and Kasevanoc,” the doctor explained. “After all, caring for the life of another may help her to see through some of her own potential issues, while the selfless love that a pet can provide would go a long way. I take it you have no problem with pets?”

In her chair, Velvet shifted slightly. “We don’t have a problem, per se; it’s just that we don’t really have pets around the house,” she replied. “I suppose you could talk about my younger daughter’s parliament—”

A delicate rose eyebrow raised. “Parliament?”

“When my younger daughter was eight, she and Tavi found an abandoned northern spotted owl and nursed it back to health. They released it into the wild, but Aloysius stuck around and formed a parliament – a flock of owls, basically – of his own and they all consider themselves Twily’s pets. We probably go through a few pounds of bird feed a month for them. It’s just that we have no standard pets, as it were.”

“That seems unusual.”

“Well, we briefly thought about getting a pet before we had children, but it just never really came up,” Velvet said with a shrug. “In any case, Chrys, I’m more than willing to give it a shot if she is.”

“I’m sure it will be a wonderful healing experience for her.”

“A pet?” Octavia spoke to her aunt as they drove away from the clinic. “I’ve really never thought about it before. Besides, I don’t have a great track record with them.”

Velvet gave her niece a sympathetic smile. “Are you still having problems with Twily’s owls?” For reasons that no one was too sure of, a good number of Twilight’s owls did not like Octavia. While they didn’t attack or harass her, the fact that they eerily stared at her when she walked by (as opposed to disinterest when other family members did or happy hoots when Twilight or Sunset were present) seemed somewhat off-putting to the family matriarch.

“I don’t know why they keep staring at me.” A flash of a brief nightmare entered her mind and she shivered at the thought. No! Go away!

“Tavi, are you okay?”

Octavia looked at her aunt. “I….” She reached for the climate controls. “Just a little cold all of a sudden,” she lied, hoping it wasn’t too obvious.

Velvet, fortunately, chose to ignore it; she’d had more than enough of her share of odd things in her life in the past few months. “Well, Dr. Chrysoberyl recommends it and as a child psychologist myself, I do have to agree that the idea has merit. But that’s entirely up to you. This will be your pet, and though we’ll all help take care of it, ultimately it will be your responsibility.”

A thought crossed the girl’s face. “So that means I get to choose what kind of pet I want?”

Velvet thought about this for a few seconds and immediately realized the potential Pandora’s Cube she’d set before her niece. “Three rules: one, it has to be legal and nothing that requires a special permit. Two, likewise, nothing from Sunset’s world – I don’t care if Razz’s pet phoenix was tame; I don’t want the house to burn down while we housebreak one for you. And finally….”


Velvet sighed. “No bees.”

Octavia groaned, slumping in her seat. “Yeah, no kidding. What’s with all the hives that seem to be everywhere? I thought there was supposed to be an epidemic of bees dying off?”

“Well, Sunny says she doesn’t know enough about it to look into it,” Velvet noted, “so it’s possible that it might be a side effect from when her grandmother reset the timeline. And while I know the bees could certainly use a break, I think the neighborhood having a strange infestation of honeybees is more than enough weirdness than I’d like to deal with.”

“Yeah, no kidding.” The teen pulled her phone out of her purse and started to look for a list of potential pets. It was obviously going to be her decision, but that didn’t mean that she didn’t want the input of her family, particularly the ones that were most likely to help her with it.

“I recommend a bloodhound,” Adagio commented drily, “if only so that we have something that will keep an eye on Sunny when we’re actually trying to get some sleep around here.”

Sunset shifted uncomfortably in the beanbag chair in Octavia’s room. “You’re not still mad, are you?”

“Let’s see.” The eldest triplet started ticking things off on her fingers. “You took off to Europe without letting anyone know, especially us, your bodyguards! You then get Shimmy involved in some international scandal, all to save Rarity some potential embarrassment!” She shook her head, her large mop of curly hair shifting to and fro. “Cuz, I love you dearly, but why do you have to be so stupid at times?”

“Gee, thanks,” Sunset drolled.

Aria raised her hand. “Anyone else want to jump on the ‘Sunset deserved her grounding’ train?” Four other hands went up immediately.

Twilight looked at her sister. “Look, we care about you and just want you to have a normal life. Your average teenager doesn’t rush off to other continents at the drop of a hat!”

Sunset sulked. “I thought we were talking about Tavi’s pet?”

Sonata nodded, deciding to ease off on her. “Okay, we’ll get back to that, but we’re not letting you off the hook. Anyway, go ahead and continue, Tavi?”

“So, ladies, I was thinking: any suggestions? I’m partial to a small dog, personally, but I want all your opinions.”

“No thanks on the dog,” Twilight said. “Just from what I hear about Winona from AJ makes me think I would never want one.”

“What’s wrong with Winona?” Sonata asked. “She’s a sweet thing.”

“She also barks like crazy and AJ told me that when she was a puppy, she practically chewed on everything in sight. I keep enough stuff strewn around my bedroom that I don’t want some poor pup to inadvertently and literally eat my homework.”

“What about a cat?” Aria suggested. “They’re okay, for the most part.”

“Are you crazy?” Adagio commented. “Every time I go over to Rarity’s, Opal just sheds all the hell over my clothing.”

“You know, Dagi, there are things known as short-haired cats,” Aria pointed out.

“No cats.”

“It’s Tavi’s choice.”

Adagio looked at her cousin. “Please be the voice of reason here?”

Octavia looked at Sunset. “Isn’t that your job?”

Sunset rolled her eyes. “I’m grounded because I apparently am not a voice of reason, as I recall.”

Twilight looked at the others. “What about—”

“No birds,” the other girls said at once, and Twilight pouted.

“I wasn’t going to suggest a bird,” she stated flatly. “Pooka gets jealous if a bird that’s not part of the parliament is close by.”

“What about a fish, then?” Sonata asked. When the other girls looked at her, she shrugged. “Look, it was just a suggestion, okay?”

Sunset then decided to be the voice of reason after all. “You have practice tomorrow with Fluttershy, right? Why not ask her? She used to work at the animal shelter in the old time and at the zoo in the new one. She’s probably got some ideas.”

Octavia nodded. “You know, that’s not a bad idea. Thanks, Sunny.”

Fuzzywuzzy’s Pets-O-Rama was a particularly special store. In a world dominated by Petco and Petsmart, the small store thrived from its location on Sycamore Street, a small retail boutique that dealt in pets that were of highest caliber, tended to by knowledgeable and expert staff. The betas there were tended to in pristine aquariums. The poodles had their coats brushed daily and the Siamese were pampered and cuddled. Not an animal that originated at Pets-O-Rama was anything less than perfect, and everything there ran like clockwork.

So when a car unexpectedly rear-ended a delivery truck, the staff of the Pets-O-Rama went into action, making sure that the truck was quickly unloaded, that their furry charges were attended to with the utmost of care, that the customers within were assured that despite the inconvenience, that their needs would be met and the continued operations of the store would move on without a hitch, so that human patrons and their furred companions would continue to receive only the best.

So in the process, no one noticed the battered cage that fell out of the back and bounced under the undercarriage of the truck, or the flash of tawny fur that scattered away from the chaotic scene, into the light-soaked Canterlot night.

“A pet?” Fluttershy asked Sunset once the flame-haired girl had explained the dilemma to her friend the next day. “Of course, I’ll be glad to help! I still have some of my expertise left from the animal shelter, though I don’t know if any of my knowledge from when I worked at the zoo will help….”

“We’re just looking for something reasonable,” Sunset told her, “so any idea will help.”

“Like Carl and Curtis?” When Sunset looked at her, Fluttershy smiled. “Part of the new timeline. When Dad moved back in with us, he brought his pet chinchillas with him – Carl Pettington and Curtis Pawpower. They’re apparently named after two famous guitars and their guitar players. They’re just adorable little things.”

“Sure, something like that,” Sunset told her.

“Okay, so I’ll bring it up to her when we practice tonight,” Fluttershy assured her. “Oh, and speaking of which, can I get your opinion on something?”

“Sure, no problem.”

Fluttershy brought out some guitar straps. “Um…the Artbuckle Music Accessories Company wants me to model some of their new ‘Slinger Strings’ straps. I’m not even a professional yet and I have these companies coming to me because ‘Discord’s Daughter’—” she said, using finger quotes, “—will be a hot property once I get a contact out there. Except I’m not ‘Discord’s Daughter’ quote unquote, I just happen to be the daughter of Discord.”

“And you want that made clear, I take it?” Sunset asked.

“Partially; it’s why I want to make sure that the band Tavi and I are forming doesn’t have my name attached to it,” she said as she stuffed the straps back in her bag. “But I also want to earn my own respect. I want to be the girl who made it because of my musical skill, not because ‘wow, Discord’s kid knows how to play banjo after throwing a temper tantrum onstage!’”

Trixie, who just happened to be walking towards them, said, “You didn’t throw a temper tantrum, Flutters; you had a valid reason for what you did – just bad timing, is all. Happens to me on stage all the time. And hi, girls. Sunny, have you heard anything yet about a substitute?”

“No, sorry, I haven’t, Trix,” Sunset told her, “but as soon as I do, you’ll be the first to know.”

“Sunset told me about your issues. Sorry to hear that. Looks like we both have things we have to work through,” Fluttershy said sympathetically.

Trixie nodded. “I’m sure we will. Besides, at least you’ve got Tavi with you.”

“Well, Lyra’s part of our band, too; we just need to find a drummer,” Fluttershy commented.

“Lyra’s parents are out of town, so that means Lyra’s a little busy, if you get my drift,” Trixie said flatly. “Well, I think I see Mr. Neighsay walking towards us, so he’s probably going to give us grief for something.”

“It’s a break right now,” Sunset stated. “Why on Earth would he give us grief?”

Neighsay strode right up to Sunset. “Ms. Shimmer,” he told her in his usual condescending tones, “I do not care what your real-life status is; in this school you will not circumvent the rules based on any real or fictional authority you may or may not have, am I clear?”

“Sir?” Sunset stated, confused.

“I found that you broke into the school attendance system and accessed scholastic files. The daily audits confirmed it.” The look on Neighsay’s eyes was one of the cat that had the mouse cornered. “Do you have anything to say for yourself?”

“Yes. That authority was given to me by Ms. Celestia back when she was school principal, and given again now that Ms. Luna is school principal, sir,” Sunset explained, “and if you ask either of them, they’ll be more than happy to confirm that. As for the reason I accessed it, that was to give a new student a copy of his schedule that he didn’t have beforehand. I didn’t want him to be late for class, so I pulled it up for him.”

Neighsay paused; the look on his face seemed as though he hadn’t considered that. “In any case, consider your authorization now revoked. It was a level of permission that you should not have had in the first place. After all, I don’t see the student council with it, and if they have more reason to do so than you, I don’t see why you should be made the exception. I will let this go for now, but I will speak to Principal Luna on this.” Nothing more to add, he walked off.

Trixie glared at the man as he departed. “I can’t believe—!”

“It’s okay, Trixie,” Sunset told her. “I’m sure Ms. Luna will straighten it out. Might mean that some other people will be authorized the same as I am, but I don’t think she’s going to take it away.”

“Still, we’d best not push our luck,” Fluttershy advised. “We may as well get to class. It’s going to be a long day as is; no need to make him any angrier.” The other two agreed with her words and they all decided to head off.

It was tired, hungry and overall miserable.

It had no idea where it was, what it was doing here or what to eat. It had been warm earlier before being removed from its mother, but that was a long time ago. Now it was by itself and didn’t know anything.

It lay on the grass, where others of its kind would have enjoyed freedom. Instead, it wondered what its future would be.

Then it saw the tall things. Tall things meant safety. Tall things meant surety.

It scampered off towards them as fast as it could.

Both Fluttershy and Octavia sat there in the rented studio, tuning their guitars. It was a place where they could both hone their craft in peace, and find a way through their strange, shared futures together. Normally, the third member of their band, Lyra, would be there, but with the news that she was busy being domestic with her girlfriend given that there were no distractions for either, both Fluttershy and Octavia let their friend have her moment.

“So, Sunny said that you were looking for a pet?” Fluttershy said, breaking the ice.

Octavia nodded. “The girls and I were talking about it, but I really don’t have any ideas. None of them want birds, Dagi doesn’t want a cat, and Twily doesn’t want a dog. Of course, they won’t let us get something from where Sunny’s from.”

Fluttershy smiled. “What, no fire-breathing phoenix chicks?”

The raven-haired girl gave a smirk of her own. “Aunt Velvet wouldn’t be happy if the house burned down for some reason.”

“Well, I’m guessing you want something cute, so something like a tarantula would be out—”

“Oh hell no! No way would I want one of those. And no fish, either. I want something cute to spend time with, not just have as decorations I have to feed.”

“So no lizards or snakes or anything like that?”

Octavia’s hand went across her guitar, causing a loud, discordant twang. “No! Not at all!”

Fluttershy put her hands up in submission. “Okay, okay, just kidding. Seriously, though, I’ll see what I can come up with. I can’t promise I’ll be able to come up with something instant, though. I don’t have the access to animals that I used to.”

“What about your boyfriend? Doesn’t Puppytails still work at the animal shelter?” Octavia asked.

Fluttershy shook her head. “His college work got a bit too busy for him to do that, and he ended up getting a new position as a vet assistant out in Bella Vista,” she explained. “It’s closer to where his apartment is, anyway. Besides, he also says that way he has a good chance to avoid Dad.”

Octavia grinned at that. “Overprotective father?”

Fluttershy laughed, a musical sound elicited from her. “No, Dad is actually happy that I’m dating. The problem is that he’s pretty much…well, you know how my dad can be in public.” Fluttershy scrunched her mouth. “It’s kinda why I was hesitant to go into music even though I like it.”

“I promise if we make it, we’ll make it on our own.”

“I know we will.” Fluttershy then remembered something. “Oh! That’s right, I was going to talk to you about something. I already spoke to Sunny about it for advice, but she’s not in our band, and you are, so I wanted your opinion as well.” Fluttershy then went over and related everything she’d discussed earlier in the day with Sunset, and as Octavia listened, she could see the stress in her friend’s eyes.

Finally, Octavia said, “Look, I promise you that when this is all done, no one’s going to care that you’re the daughter of Discord when this is over.” Clapping her friend on the back, she said, “When we take the stage? I guarantee they’re going to point out he’s the Father of Fluttershy.” The two giggled and Fluttershy relaxed, glad she had a friend she could rely on.

“Anyway, did you want to see the straps?” When the yes was nodded, Fluttershy pointed towards her bag. “Can you grab them out of my bag? They’re in there.”

Octavia got up and went for her friend’s bag, opening it…and gasped. “Flutters! What’s this?” Confused, the chiffon-haired teen got up and looked in the bag as well. To her surprise, laying in the bag was a small ferret pup, sleeping on top of the straps. The way it was positioned, the name of the company – ARTBUCKLE – read as AR_BUCKLE instead.

“Oh, he’s so cute!” Fluttershy gushed, automatically reaching into the bag and plucking him out. The ferret looked completely spooked until Fluttershy held him close to her cheek, gently nuzzling him. At once, he began to make a small, soft clucking sound, a tone that indicated he suddenly felt safe.

“Can I?” Octavia asked, completely entranced by the small form cuddling in Fluttershy’s hands. Immediately she passed over the small mustelid, and to the surprise of both, it started jumping excitedly up and down in her hands.

“Ooh! A war dance!” Fluttershy noted.

Octavia looked at her worriedly. “Should I worry?”

“No, that’s just what it’s called. Weasels and ferrets do war dances when they’re excited and happy. It’s almost as if it’s saying that he belongs to you.”

“Really?” Octavia looked at her new charge. “Do you mean that?”

In response the pup scurried up her arm and onto her shoulder, muzzling against her ear and dooking gently. It tickled her, and she giggled as a result. “I guess you do belong to me, don’t you?”

“Well, what are you going to name him?”

“Not a clue. You have an idea?”

“What about…Artbuckle, since he was laying on the straps?”

Octavia thought about that. “Well, what about Arbuckle, since he was covering the T when he was sleeping?” She asked him, “You like that?” In response, he began to war dance again and she could feel the excited little creature bounce up and down on her shoulder. “Okay, Arbuckle it is, then.”

“Well, I guess that’s the end of practice,” Fluttershy said. “We’re going to have to go to the store, get him a cage and some stuff, then take him to the vet.”

Octavia’s smile fell. “Oh, I hadn’t thought about that. That’s going to be hell on my allowance.”

“I’ll pay for everything,” Fluttershy insisted. “My treat.”

“You sure?”

“Well, it looks like you found a pet that you like…or rather, he found you,” Fluttershy explained, “so I can’t let a good pair like that go away. Besides, Dad’s always saying that’s just money, anyway.”

Sitting away on her shoulder while she ate dinner, she fed a piece of her sashimi to him. “Who’s a good little boy?” she cooed. “You are!” Arbuckle took it and nibbled on the piece of raw tuna, a contented look on his face.

“Are you sure you didn’t have anything to do with that, Sunny?” Twilight asked her sister.

“No, not at all!” Sunset insisted. “I wouldn’t have even remotely thought of a ferret!”

“Why not?” Adagio asked. “He is kinda cute, and from the way he’s just doting on Tavi, I think they’re a perfect match for one another.”

Sunset tried to figure out a way to explain. “Okay, you know the story Rikki-Tikki-Tavi?”

“Who doesn’t?” Velvet said to her daughter. “It’s a classic that everyone grows up with.” Realizing who she was talking to, she amended with, “Well, everyone born human, that is.”

“Don’t worry, Mom, I’ve read the story, although I have to wonder why the author’s parents named him Rude Yard.”

“‘Rude’ was a synonym for rough around the time when he lived,” Twilight explained, “and yard simply referred to India at the time.”

“Thank you, Wikipedia with Legs,” Aria said with a laugh.

“Anyway, as I was saying,” Sunset explained, “in pony culture, we don’t give much thoughts about weasels or ferrets. They’re important in Zhuanganese – panda – culture, but otherwise to ponies, we don’t think of them much at all. Not even as pets.”


“We tend towards the more unique, like phoenixes, pygmy alligators though most ponies have many of the same types we have here.”

“Well, I for one think he’s cute…as long as he doesn’t steal anything,” Sonata added. “Ferrets do that, you know.”

“Oh, he’s a well-behaved little guy,” Octavia assured them. “I promise he won’t do anything bad.”

“Where’s my controller?” Spike asked. “Mom, did you take my controller?”

Velvet sighed. “No, though I’ve been more than tempted to at times, son. Don’t you have a wired controller?”

“Yes, but then I can’t sit on the bed and—”

“You’ll manage.” She looked down at her work; now was not the team to deal with this sort of headache. She had next year’s annual budget to look over, and then present it to the County board. Now, if she could go over the notes she had on her…

She groaned. “Okay, where’s my cellphone?”

Sunset overheard. She snapped her fingers and Velvet’s cellphone appeared in her hand a second later. “Better?”

“No; I told you that you were grounded from using magic, Sunset,” Velvet admonished. “But…since I needed this I’ll let it slide this one time.” Seeing her daughter’s crestfallen face, she said, “I know this is difficult for you, but you have to remember: you have to be a normal girl as well as some omnipotent being.”

“I’m not omnipotent, Mom,” Sunset reminded her. “I’m powerful, but definitely not omnipotent.”

“Powerful enough.”

“Found the stuff,” Adagio said a second later. “Looks like Arbuckle’s already busy building himself a little hidey hole underneath the couch.” The carrot-haired girl set a plethora of small items on the table, from the keys to Aria’s motorcycle to Spike’s wireless controller, to (somewhat worryingly) a magazine from one of the triplets’ pistols. On that last part, Adagio apologized to her aunt and insisted they would take better care of that in the future.

“So looks like our little ferret is living up to his name, I see,” Velvet said with a slight smile.


Ferret comes from the Latin term for small thief. Given their nature, it only makes sense.” Velvet looked at Sunset and Adagio. “Looks like Sunset’s not going to be the only furry troublemaker in this house.”

The flame-haired girl sighed. “Mom….” she groaned, getting a chuckle out of the older woman.

Author's Note:

In reality, the ferret is named after famed silent comedian Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle.