• Published 31st May 2016
  • 22,726 Views, 352 Comments

Do Humans Hibernate? - Pen Mightier



“Do Humans Hibernate?” Rainbow has a question on her mind. She's not entirely sure why it's bothering her so much. It probably doesn't help that the only human she could ask is the world's greatest liar. [COMPLETE STORY]

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Dancing and Prancing and Snowballs in Your Face!

Bare winter sunlight kissed the fresh virgin snow where it stretched on forever atop the sleeping earth. Here where the naked trees slumbered and autumn went to rest, silence reigned. In short, it was boring as buck. And Rainbow Dash absolutely hated everything about the place.

"...Daring Do barrelled out of the boulder's way and landed in a screeching stop just an inch shy of the endless chasm. Behind her the giant boulder rolled into the bottomless drop, crashing its way down the chasm wall. The crashing and smashing noises from below seemed to echo on forever before fading away into the distant underbelly of the ancient temple. She let out the breath she didn't even know she was holding..."

Rainbow read out the adrenaline-pumping action with such enthusiasm that one might have mistaken it for a funeral sermon for Daring Do.

"...and Daring Do knew she had finally found it ­– the crystal coffin where her foalhood friend, Prince Charming….s-slept f-f-forever. She had read the ancient manuscript twice. There was no mistaking what she had to do to r-reawaken h-him. S-she must k-kiss..."

Somepony held his breath, almost expectantly.

Rainbow Dash's ears perked to attention, flicking from side to side. She should only have a hibernating tortoise and the idle wind for an audience. And any pegasus knows the wind never holds its breath. She looked up from the book cradled in her lap to frown at the frosty winter landscape.

It stared back.

She leapt out of her bright blue fur totally stood her ground at the sight of the towering mountain that had silently snuck up on her.

To say her gaze fell upon it would be inaccurate. Even where it squatted before her, her eyes had to ponderously climb its ridiculously tall frame like the slow, fretful rise of a roller coaster. And when she reached the tuft of messy dark mane at the peak there was that heart-stopping moment where she realized that she had, in fact, reached the top, that her eyes had run out of things to climb and that things could only go out of control from there, fast.

Her totally-not-panicking heart slowed a little as a distant memory slowly caught up with her. It is a little known fact that Rainbow Dash organizes her life and memories as one big race. She calmed down enough to allow one lazy memory to finally draw level with her; A faint memory of that one random alien that hung around ol' Egghead a lot. Rainbow knew him about as well as that weird store owner with the sofa and quill fetish. They were mere bystanders in that slow lane of life, a mundane background to her own fast lane. Wasn't he Twilight's gofer? Or was it Captain or royal-gofer or something? She honestly didn't know the difference. There probably wasn't one when it came to princesses.

"Oh, sorry, was it too early to hold my breath?" His face suddenly lit up with realization. Rainbow had a sneaking suspicion it was a mocking one. "Alright, tell me when."

She just stared at him as a fish might stare at a grand piano. He probably had some purpose in the universe at large, but she couldn't even begin to imagine how it could possibly involve her in any way. Everything about the giant from his weird black and purple armour to his freaky two-legged squat stood out like a sore hoof in the door of normality, the party balloon zooming around at a wake, the toffee in the bottle of painkillers.

"Hey, don't leave the sleeping prince hangin'!" He waved an impatient...claw(?) at her. "I've been coming here to this icy ass-end of nowhere to listen every single day for the past five days. Not once have you ever made it to the juicy bit and finished the damned story."

"You've been hiding and listening to me reading for the past five days?!" She finally found her voice as it welled up full of indignation. "Wait, have you been watching me cryi-..." She demanded, hotly, before quickly stopping herself. "I mean, I totally haven't been coming here every day, especially not to do uncool things like reading out uncool books, okay?! That would be, y'know, like this uncool!" She shot into the air to measure out with a hoof just how uncool it was. It was a lot uncool.

"You said it, not me." He shrugged, grinning that same shit-eating grin that was totally starting to grate on her. "But, hey, you're Rainbow Dash, you're..." He paused to take out a Twilight-brand flash card from his pocket. It was even purple! "....the most awesome pony in Equestria." He read out slowly and deliberately. "Surely anything you do is automatically cool." He said, cocking a challenging eyebrow at her.

She rolled her eyes. Figures that Egghead put him up to this. It was totally her.

At least he's honest about it.

Rainbow relaxed a little at the knowledge that Twi had a hoof in all this. "Heh, more like super-ultra-extreme-awesomazing! But awesome's cool too." She fluttered down halfway towards the alien.

“But not even the super-ultra-extreme-awesomemazing Rainbow Dash can make egghead stuff like books cool, right?” He taunted with a grin.

“Is that a challenge?” Rainbow leered, landing with a crunch in the snow. She took a deep breath as she flipped her book open once more. “Watch me.”

"Oh, this oughta be good." He said airily, leaning back against a nearby tree.

She shot him a dirty look. "Hay, sorry, little guy. I got uncooly interrupted." She said to the snow-covered burrow under the tree. It regarded her cooly in reply. "Where was I? Oh yeah. Daring Do must kiss her old friend to...to awaken him from his accursed slumber. She gazed down at the face of her foalhood friend....where he lay, f-f-forever asleep." Her lower lip quivered as the rest of her slumped down. "Daring Do rubbed a forehoof across her eyes. She was surprised to find they were wet. She wh-whispered softly....Tank...oh, buddy..." She whimpered, clutching the book tightly against her chest.

SPLAT

She found her face was suddenly well and truly wet. And cold. Melting snow dripped off her steaming mane as she slowly, shakily turned to face her attacker. Her normally russet eyes flared a furious crimson as they locked on their new target.

"I swear, random snowballs just start flying everywhere when I get bored." He had the gall to say while packing a fresh snowball, giving her little moment all the reverence of a sun cream peddler attending day court.

“So does horseapples, obviously. Do you even know who you just threw a snowball at?!” Rainbow demanded as the last of the snow on her head escaped in a puff of frightened steam.

"Yeah, I know exactly who I'm throwin'em at. 'Cause you know what's the difference between a snowman and a snowwuss?" He pointed his readied snowball at her. "Snowballs."

'He...he actually acted cool while being lame.' She trembled violently at the absolute misuse and abuse of coolness. "You....you..." She began to channel Commander Hurricane himself. "You totally un-radical lame-o!" She declared his crime against all things awesome as she launched herself into the air.

He wisely dive-rolled out of the way of the rainbow cannonball that threatened to shave his face as it blitzed past him. He gave a smug chuckle as it rammed straight into the tree behind him. "You can't hit shit."

"That wasn't what I was aiming at." Rainbow called back from above.

"You couldn't...." He noticed the looming shadow growing wider and wider around his feet. "Fuck my life." He looked up just in time to see an entire treeload of snow fall towards him right before it buried him alive.

Rainbow gently touched down on the fresh mound of snow with a flutter of her wings. "I totally could. Kyu, Eeh, Dee." She gave a smug chuckle before blowing the mound a victory raspberry. "Bweeeeeh."

She received a burst of snow in her open mouth for her troubles. "Gotcha, thunderbutt!" He roared, bursting out of the mound like a drunken tatzlwurm, gripping her around her withers.

"Think again, lameface!" She cried in defiance, flaring her wings and taking flight, launching both herself and the limpet clinging onto her into another snow mound. They burst out the other side in a shower of snow and pinballed in two different directions. The two quickly rolled upright, snowballs held in their claws/hooves as they rushed at each other in a mad dash.

"EAT SNOW!" They tossed their snowballs at each other in perfect unison. The two projectiles met in midair, exploding in a burst of snow. Something flew out of the cloud of snow and continued travelling in the human's direction. It was a soggy rainbow-coloured hoof-sock, the same one Rainbow had been wearing.

"What the fu-..." He gasped before eating a faceful of sock.

"You can eat that too." Rainbow laughed as she dove into a sliding tackle between his legs, kicking his ankles wide apart as she slid past. "The dirt's on the house." She chuckled as he crashed and burned in the snow behind her.

She panted as she picked herself up and dusted the snow off her fur. That. Was. Awesome! She hadn't felt that excited and awesome since...since...

Her glowing grin turned into a little frown as she looked back at the little burrow under the tree behind her. Her frown grew deeper as she looked back at the mound of shame that was the defeated human. Huh, was he...trying to cheer me up?

Rainbow shook her head. Naaaah, that'd be cool, and he's too uncool for that.

A little smile spread across her face. Uncool or not, she had earned her bragging rights fair and square. And Rainbow Winner Dash never wastes a chance to flaunt her victories. She trotted up to the defeated snow mound and gave it a victory boop. "I totally won." She declared, smugly.

There was a loud clicking sound. "Yeah, you're also totally busted." The mound said with a chuckle.

Rainbow glanced down at the brand new pair of hoof-cuffs adorning her forehooves. "Hay, what gives?!" She demanded, rattling the chains at him.

The human dug himself out of his mound of snow with surprising ease. "Hey, I can't have you getting away from me now, can I? It's important we get started on the right foot." He chuckled darkly, much to her horror. "Rainbow Dash," He cleared his throat authoritatively, "You are under arrest for deliberate disruption of official weather patrol work, breaking and entering and destruction of government property."

"What?" Rainbow flinched at all the big words looming over her.

"You're busted for sabotaging winter and wrecking the weather factory." He translated for her.

"Ooooh, that. Uh, maybe we can call it even?" She gave him a sheepish little pony squee.

"Oh, it's even, alright. The punishment is six to twelve months banishment and being thrown in the naughty corner of a dungeon in that place you're banished to." He read out from another flash card. “So yeah, on a scale of one to ten, you’re totally screwed.”

"Wha...?" Rainbow's eyes widened as the horror set in. "No way!"

"Ya way." He said, grimly. "If you were in Cloudsdale." He added, breaking out a mischievous smile. "But you're in Ponyville and here we play by Twilight's rules. Which is why I said it's important you and I get off on the right foot. We're gonna be spending a loooot of time doing awesome community service stuff together." He said, rubbing his hands together.

"Wait, with you?" Rainbow's stomach churned at the thought of spending even more time with the grating human. Twelve months dungeon suddenly sounded a lot more appealing. "I mean, don't I at least get to object in a trial or something?"

"Well, ponies in Ponyville generally just accept the local fed's ruling. The alternative is appealing to the court in Canterlot." He shrugged. "I mean, if you really want Cloudsdale having a say in where you're banished to..."

Rainbow gave a loud groan. "Fine, fine, but isn't there, like, anypony else I could do the community service thing with? Like, I dunno, Cranky? Steve Mag? Discord? Hay, even that jam stallion?" She pleaded.

"Well, I'm the lesser of two evils, really." He shrugged. "Your choice."

"Who's...the other one?" Rainbow’s ears drooped as she worked up the courage to ask.

He looked around furtively, as if the trees themselves might listen in. He leaned in close. Rainbow found herself gulping as she leaned forwards to meet him halfway, ears perking to attention. "There is a monster from aeons past that has been kept sealed in the deepest darkest dungeon of Canterlot." He whispered, almost as if he was afraid somepony or something might be listening. "He is an old forgotten king of a warlike race that has wiped itself off the face of Equestria, with a tragic backstory so tearjerking it made the San Palomino desert cry itself dry. They say that his right hand alone is so powerful he created Mt. Canterlot by jerking off in his dungeon. He was such a brooding badass lone wolf that he banished Nightmare Moon by friendzoning her. And if that's not enough, he is so roguishly handsome he once winked at a mountain and it forever became known as the Neighara Falls. No horseapples."

Rainbow totally did not shiver from her mane down to her dock. "Uh, I'll stick with you, thanks." She said, hurriedly.

"Yeah, I wouldn't want to be alone with me either." He nodded in grim agreement.

"Wait, what?" She blinked.

"So yeah, as Princess Twilight's Guard Marshal and, well, only guardsman, I've got the awesome privilege of being your parole officer." He grasped her forehoof. "Looking forwards to working with ya, Rainbow." Her chains rattled as he gave her hoof-cuffed forehooves a vigorous shake.

"Same here." She rolled her eyes.

"That's the spirit." He smiled, giving her a reassuring slap on the withers. "I'll give you the bad news first; Twilight has a big list of things you can do to serve out your sentence starting with, surprise, rearranging her library." His grin turned into a dark frown. "For the fifth time this week." He added, flatly.

"Oh, jooooy. A list!" Rainbow double-facehoofed. The hoofcuffs didn't give her much of a choice. "And the good news?"

"I'm still working on that one." He admitted. At least he had the decency to look sheepish about it.

"I caaan't wait." Rainbow grouched.

"Me neither." He agreed, "But we're gonna have to be patient ‘till 6 o'clock tomorrow morning. I'll catch'ya there. Again." He chuckled as he waved goodbye.

"Hay," She called out, "I can't walk home like this." She waved her hoofcuffs plaintively at him.

"Really? I thought you'd enjoy the challenge." He grinned, earning him a really dirty pout.

Celestia punted the sun into a beautiful wispy pink and yellow sky, casting perfectly sculpted morning shadows across the picturesque little town. It might have been majestic as buck if anypony was awake to give any, but there weren't.

Except perhaps Rainbow Dash, but she didn't have any bucks left to give. "It's too flocking early." She muttered, shivering a little as she pulled her flight scarf tighter around her neck. Normally around that time she'd still be curled up in bed, staring at Tank's sleeping basket until lunch time. On that particular day she didn't even have time to fly over to his burrow. She had resolved to kick the hay out of their job list in ten minutes flat. She'd make it to Tank's burrow for the rest of the afternoon even if it killed her.

Puffs of snow rose off the ground in her downdraft as she flapped to a hovering landing by the palace. She pulled her flight goggles off just in time to see the sun crest over the tip of the palace, illuminating the permanent rainbow of Friendship that spiralled away into the winter sky. She gave a loath little sigh as she looked around.

She didn't even have to wait ten minutes before spotting her parole officer, fully dressed in his black and purple Friendship Guard uniform. He was kneeling by the entrance, studying the ground with all the grim concentration one more commonly applies to pick-up lines or filling out tax returns. On the snow in front of him was what looked like a black chalk outline. How he managed to get chalk on the snow was a mystery best put down to Twilight science and left at that.

She froze when she noticed the shape of the outline. It had four limbs and a pair of wings, all sprawled out in a position that looked anatomically painful. There were a few smaller chalk outlines a little way off. She wasn't sure whether or not to feel reassured that she couldn't recognize their shapes.

"What's going on?" She instinctively dropped her voice to a whisper, just in case she woke up the chalk outline.

"I'm investigating a disappearance." He said, grimly. "It was a pony, moustache, four foot two."

"Whoah." Rainbow murmured, unsure of what else to say.

"Yeah, four foot two's pretty wide for a moustache." He nodded in agreement.

"W-was it..." She gulped. "Murder?" The very word tasted bitter in her mouth.

"Well, no." He waved a hand at the chalk outline. "Otherwise there'd be a body, right?" He pointed out just how empty the chalk outline was.

"Uh, right?" She frowned at the surprisingly water-proof logic.

He took a pinch of the earth beneath the snow and rubbed it thoughtfully in his fingers. Then, with all the air of a connoisseur, he took a whiff and a lick.

Rainbow felt her curiosity grow. "What is it?" She asked.

"It's worse than I thought." He replied, dourly, staring off into the middle distance. "It's dirt."

"What does it mean?" She asked, practically leaning over his shoulder.

"Not a thing," He said, his face screwed up in fierce concentration, "Quick, Rainbow, we gotta reconstruct the crime scene." The human launched into a flurry of activity as he abruptly straightened up.

"Wh-what?" Rainbow blinked, taking a surprised half-step back.

"No time to explain!" He said grimly, "Rainbow, quick, lie down in the outline!"

"U-uh..." She didn't even pause to consider the order amidst the urgency of it all. She planted herself in the snow and arranged her wings and limbs to fit the outline as best as she could. "Like this?" She hazarded.

"Leg there, wing slightly to the right..." He manhandled her into position, causing her normally cool blue fur to turn a warmer shade of pink. "Perfect!" He nodded in satisfaction. "Just in time."

Rainbow frowned at that. "Just in time for what?" Her eyes slowly widened as she noticed four figures silhouetted against the sunrise strolling up the path to the palace. The four ponies paused their chatter as their eyes landed on the blue pegasus sprawled on the ground, doing her best impression of a catfish attempting suggestive yoga in the snow.

Rainbow could only squeak as she felt the snow around her melt and steam under her burning blush.

"O-oh, my, Rainbow darling," Rarity was the first to break the silence with a dainty giggle into a forehoof. "It would appear the evildoers have finally developed a good taste in beauty." She loosened the neckline of her anorak. "Oooh, is it just me or is my parka a little warm for the weather?"

"O-Oh no, Rainbow, w-who did this to you?" Fluttershy rushed over and draped herself over Rainbow's body. "O-oh, R-Rainbow, I-I'm so sorry." She squeaked, tearfully.

"Oh Dashie!" Pinkie faux-wailed, grabbing the pegasus in a chokehold. "I'll catch the meanie-mean-pants whodunnit and avenge you! Lots!"

"Hay, don't just write me off like that!" Rainbow protested. "Like, literally, Pinkie!" She gasped for breath, clawing at the pink hooves around her neck.

"Shuuush, it's alright, Dashie. Save your breath." Pinkie hushed reassuringly. "Go ahead and trot into the light! There are probably birthday cakes and parties there! Make sure to find out and tell me!"

"No, Rainbow, don't look at the light!" Fluttershy pleaded. "I-if that's alright with you, I mean!"

Applejack lowered the brim of her hat, casting an ominous shadow over her eyes. "The perp was probably her arch-nemesis, the dirt. It's always been threatening revenge for all them flying headbutts. And now it's gone and dunnit." She gave a dismal shake of her head at the tragedy of it all. The dirt gave her a dirty look in response.

"Hay, I don't crash!" Rainbow was quick to defend herself. "I just...uh...land with style."

"It's alright, Rainbow. Ah'll cry for ya. Inside." The farmer gave what could have been a sob or a giggle-snort, it was hard to tell under the hat.

"You mean...this murder was premeditated?" Rarity gave a dramatic gasp. "Oh, the equinity!" She swooned.

"Nooo, dirt, why you do this?!" Pinkie howled at the dirt. The dirt didn't look the slightest bit remorseful.

"Naughty dirt, y-you should be ashamed of yourself!" Fluttershy joined in with a very genuine wail. The ground at least had the decency to remain silent.

"It was me." The human admitted to the murder with all the guiltless viciousness of one bringing home the groceries and admitting to forgetting the milk.

"Oh, brohoof." Pinkie raised a forehoof to him in salute. He replied with a brotherly fistbump.

"Nice one, partner." Applejack doffed her hat at him approvingly.

"A masterpiece, Marshal." Rarity nodded in agreement.

"Oh, that's alright then, I think." The Element of Kindness was kind enough to forgive him for his transgressions.

"Traitors!” The Element of Loyalty yelped at all the brazen treachery.

"What's all the noise?" Twilight's voice joined the throng as the purple princess herself trotted out to the palace's front door. She paused at the sight of the crime scene. "Mars?" She raised an eyebrow at her guard marshal. "I'm sure we've been over this." She intoned, warningly.

"Is this the one about my 'snuggle first, ask questions while snuggling' policy? Or is it about your 'stop snuggling when they stop breathing' policy?" Her marshal asked, looking the very model of innocence.

"No, it's my 'letting me in on your pranks' policy." The princess gave him a reproachful look. Nopony missed the mischievous gleam in her eyes though.

"This was a prank?!" Rainbow cried, shooting the human an indignant glare. Everypony stared down at her as a scientist might eye a hamster discovering a world beyond its wheel. "But...but...you were acting all cool investigating everything." She almost broke into tears at the abuse of coolness.

"Rainbow, for somepony who loves dishin'em out, yer mighty darn blind when yer on the receiven' end of a prank." Applejack chortled.

"We didn't lose anypony?!" Rainbow demanded.

"Ya lost some pride, maybe." Applejack sniggered.

"That was for yesterday. Now we're even." Rainbow's parole officer chuckled as he offered her one of his hands.

"We'll see about that." Rainbow growled, roughly pushing his hand aside before rolling onto her hooves.

Rarity trotted up to help dust the snow off Rainbow's fur and scarf. Her horn lit up with a tinkling blue glow as she magically dried off what little had melted. "Well, jokes aside, Rainbow, I'm glad the darling gentleman was able to get you to join us somehow. We had all lost hope!" She gave the marshal a smile of gratitude.

"Huh? Join what?" Rainbow looked around the circle of hopeful faces.

"It's Friday, pancake day!" Pinkie chirped, hopping in place. "You can't be telling me you forgot about pancake day?! Well, we kinda guessed you did 'cause you never responded to any of my invitations, reminders, singing telegrams, smoke signals and messenger pigeons. And Applejack went on about giving you some space over Tank, and...mmhhmmhhhhuummh." Pinkie carried on mumbling into the forehoof Applejack had stuck in her mouth.

"Oh, uh, right..." Rainbow deflated a little at the reminder. She looked around, biting her lip all the while. Surely she doesn't deserve to have fun? Not when Tank was gone. That'd be...disloyal to him. "Well, I've got my community service stuff to do, so..." She looked to the Marshal to bail her out.

"Oh, come, darling." Rarity chided, pushing the blue pegasus along in front of her. "I'm sure Marshal can wait a while, especially if there are pancakes in it for him." She gave him a wink.

"I am not one to argue with pancakes. Or ladies." The Marshal chuckled. "Rainbow Dash, you've been sentenced to pancake duty." He said, waving a clipboard at her.

"Wait, what?" Rainbow swiped the clipboard out of his claws. "You just added it in crayon!" She pointed out the scrawl on the otherwise immaculate list.

"Standard royal stationery." He shrugged.

"It's pink!" Rainbow argued.

"You have something against pink?" Pinkie Pie gasped, pressing her nose up against Rainbow's. "You're not pinkist, are you?"

"Uh, n-no." Rainbow wisely shook her head. "I-I love pink. S-some of my best friends are pink." Rainbow, element of political correctness, sputtered.

"Good! So you have nothing against pancakes either!" Rainbow found herself suddenly herded into the palace by a flurry of pink. She couldn't help but steal a glance at the weird human as she was ushered inside by her friends towards the welcoming smell of hot pancakes. She caught sight of Twilight pulling him aside for a private talk. Whatever it was about, Twilight seemed happy about it, even so far as giving him a hoof-bump of approval.

A thought suddenly occurred to her. Wait, did he...did he force her to come over to make sure she'd have breakfast with her friends?

She chuckled dryly to herself as she trotted after the girls. Nah, that'd be way cool, and he's way too uncool for that.

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