• Published 19th May 2013
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Pony Und Panzer! - Diceman



Cutie Mark Crusaders pilot Silly weapons of war.

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Chapter IX: Secret, Secret, I Got a Secret...

Chapter IX: Secret, Secret, I Got a Secret...

Scootaloo watched Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle pace back and fourth in the same spot they had been pacing in over the last four days. I once polished floor was now pock marked with indentations, most of which would occasionally trip up a nurse or two. At one point one of the doctors cursed them out for making the floor difficult to navigate but he was quickly silence by a angry stare from Apple Bloom and a comment about the hospitals shoddy construction, one of the more hilarious moments but nowhere near enough to abate the waves of boredom in that hallway.

She had tried to talk them out of the constant waiting game, telling them that walking back and fourth will not bring back consciousness to their sisters but she was quickly stonewalled by Apple Blooms stubbornness in that debate. It wasn't like she wasn't worried about Rarity or Apple Jack; if that was the case she wouldn't be here day in and day out with her friends. She didn't see the sense in waiting around but each time she wanted to raise an objection she would remember the first argument about the subject and stay quiet.

"You don't know what it's like!" She remembered Apple Bloom yelling. "I could lose my sister cause of all this!"

"Yeah, you don't know what it's like, you don't have a sister!" Sweetie Belles words still made her slightly angry.

How could they both say such things? She loved Rarity and Apple Jack as if they were her own sisters, she just knew that badgering the doctors and nurses for information was a waste of time. She figured she could toss up the outburst to being grief stricken but pacing wasn't doing them, or the other crusaders any good, if anything it was making them more agitated. What was nearly as bad was that everypony had their work piling up on them, sure Babs Seed would keep her mind occupied , she would head back and fine tune the armor after chores at the farm but without the whole team there to finish the rest it was a pointless endeavor.

Maybe she really didn't understand what it was like to nearly lose a sister, aside from her adoptive one; Rainbow Dash, she only had limited knowledge of what a real family is like. She knew what happened to her parents but was never told the specifics and the one grandparent that took care of her was long gone. The only other member of her family that she knew of was a cousin that never visited her, nor even validated her existence with so much as a letter.

I do hope she gets better soon, being cramped up in this hospital all day is driving me up a wall. Scootaloo thought.

Suddenly one of the nurses popped her head out the door leading to the intensive care unit where Apple Jack and Rarity where recovering. She looked down on the two fillies and the two fillies looked up at her expectantly. "Both of your sisters are stirring, I will let you both in to see them after I do some blood work and run a few tests."

Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belles faces both had a grin from ear to ear.

"Hear that Sweetie? Sis is gonna be alright!" Apple Bloom couldn't contain her jubilation and was hopping up and down in the hallway, much to the disdain of the nurses treating other patients.

Sweetie Belle wiped away tears of joy. "You really think so? I mean , the doctors said they are nowhere out of the bad part of the woods yet. Though I don't know what they mean by that, I thought this was a hospital; not the Everfree Forrest."

Scootaloo on the other hoof breathed a sigh of relief. Things could at least get back to normal with Apple Jack and Rarity awake. She felt so bored and worn out from all the emotional yoyo-ing from the past few days that she didn't even have the urge to correct Sweetie Belle on her lack of knowledge on metaphors.

Scootaloo stood up in her chair and stretched like a cat."Wait, we got to tell the others!" Scootaloo hopped out of her seat and headed down the hallway, stopping and turning back to the others. "You two go on and greet them, I'll head to the farm and shop to tell the others."

Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle nodded appreciatively at Scootaloo before she ran down the corridor toward the elevator. She didn't know if it made her a bad pony or not but she was more relieved that she was getting some fresh air than AJ and Rarity being awake.

Scootaloo ran down the corridor, grabbing her scooter off a hat rack near the elevator and pressed the button to go down. She waited patiently at the door, ignoring a minor cramp in her leg from sitting down for so long. The bell dinged and the door opened, there in the door stood nurse Sun Joy, pushing a cart of food.

"Oh, hello Scootaloo. Do you want anything off the guest tray today?" Sun Joy said as she wheeled the cart off the elevator.

"No ma'am, I have to get to the farm to tell others the good news, Apple Jack and Rarity are both waking up!" Scootaloo could barely contain her excitement as she got on the elevator.

"Oh well then I better get this cart rolling, they will probably be starving at this point. So long as the doctor says it's okay that is." Sun Joy looked over the food on her cart. "I seem to be missing bagels for some reason."

"Sure, good. Gotta go, gotta tell everypony the good news." The door closed and the elevator moved to the bottom floor. When it opened Scootaloo noticed Fluttershy in the lobby dropping off flowers, a tag with Apple Jack and Rarities room number was hanging off the vase.

"Fluttershy!" Scootaloo hopped onto her scooter and raced toward Fluttershy, stopping just short of her and getting an angry stare from the desk nurse.

"Sorry, forgot about the no scooter rule, nurse Willow Bark." Scootaloo said apologetically. The nurse merely nodded and went back to filling out paperwork.

"So, what has you so excited Scootaloo?" Fluttershy asked.

Scootaloo inhaled deeply. "ApplejackandRarityarewakingup!"

"Ummm...could you slow that down to about a quarter speed if you would be so kind?" Fluttershy asked.

"Oh, sorry. Apple Jack and Rarity are gonna be waking up soon, I'm off to tell everypony at the farm and..." Scootaloo looked at Fluttershy's wings. "How fast can you fly?"

"Not very fast I'm afraid. My wing power is just above a two the last time I checked. Why?"

"Could I ask a favor of you? I need you to notify Rainbow Dash of the news. She's been taking her afternoon naps on the higher clouds and I ...ummm." Scootaloo looked back at her own, small, mostly non-functional wings and frowned. "Can we just say I'm a little altitude deficient and leave it at that?"

Fluttershy smiled, ruffling Scootaloo's mane affectionately. "Don't worry I'll tell Rainbow Dash about the good news. We will get the others, you just get the news to the farm."

"Thanks Fluttershy." Scootaloo was about to hop on her scooter when the nurse at the desk peered over her folder and shot her nasty glare and a low growl.

"I-I'll just use this outside." Scootaloo opened the door, dragging her scooter along when she remembered she forgot her helmet at home that day. "I guess full speed ahead isn't an option." Scootaloo flipped open her scooter and stood on it.

"Half speed it is I guess..." Scootaloo beat her wings at half as fast as normal and took off at a steady pace, although one barely any faster than just running. She sighed heavily as she watched the horizon ahead of her move ever so slowly. "Better there in one piece than joining them in the hospital I guess."

***

Big Mac wiped his brow as he tossed another bail of hay into the barn. Looking over his shoulder he watched as granny Smith tried her best to do the same, Although she could carry them the toll it took on her stamina was enormous.

"Granny, you sure you don't want to buck apples instead, like Babs is doing?" Big Mac asked.

"No, she's doing fine on her own in the west field. You're the one that needs the most help. Taking on your own and Apple Jacks chores while she was sick is a big challenge and I taint leavein ya on yer own when I still got some kick in me." Granny Smith tossed a bail of hay clear though the top window of the barn before collapsing on the ground.

"Granny!" Big Mac rushed to help her up when granny Smith held up a hoof in protest. "I'll be fine sonny, I just need to take a quick rest. A hay nap would feel good right about now." Granny Smith looked up at the remaining hay bails and climbed up on on of the ones lower to the ground. She quickly made herself comfortable and within moments she was asleep.

"Oh granny, what am I gonna do with ya? Yer pride's gonna get you put in the hospital iffin ya keep this up." Big Mac shook his head dismally. In just a few days the farm started to fall apart, most of the basic chores were easily handled on his own but with so many apples yet to be gathered and only two, maybe three able bodies at most; two of them fillies. It seemed like more than they could handle.

Maybe I should ask Twilight and the others for assistance Big Mac thought as he pondered solutions to their dilemma. He then remembered that granny Smith while having no problems getting along with the others was too stubborn to accept help, even when she desperately needed it.

"I guess it's just her way of coping while AJ is gone." thinking back over the last couple days, Granny Smith had been working herself to the bone, whether it was becuase she saw things not getting done, her pride as an Apple or as a way to fill the void that Apple Jacks presence left, he couldn't tell. He just wished she didn't push herself so hard.

"Well I guess I can milk the cows while she rests." Big Mac trotted to the other side of the barn and hopped over the fence to the field where the few cows in their employ where busy grazing.

"Good afternoon ladies." Big Mac said.

"Good afternoon Big Mac." The cows replied in a depressed tone.

"Let me guess, no milk again today?" Big Mac asked somberly.

The cows just looked at one another with sad expressions on their faces. Each of them staring at Big Mac with weary, sad eyes for a extended pause until one of them stepped forward.

"We're sorry Big Mac, we've just been too depressed to produce. It's just not the same without Apple Jack around."

Big Mac sighed and shook his head. He could hardly blame them for their lack of milk production, the entire farm had an aura of melancholy about it since Apple Jack was incapacitated. "That's fine, the chickens have been down too. Even the pigs are too blue to bother to roll around in the mud, though I guess I should thank them since that means I don't have to hose em down every afternoon."

"We will eventually get over it. None of us can look you in the eye and collect our pay if we don't give milk in return."

The other cows nodded in agreement.

"That's mighty fine of you ladies but this is trying times for everypony and I don't really control the finances around here. I do however have an idea. Have any of y'all apple bucked before?" Big Mac asked.

The cows whispered among one another when a couple of them stepped forward. "We don't know about how to kick trees, our hooves are not broad enough for that, but me and Edna here can shake them with our horns. I can show the others how if you want."

"Good, instead of milk this week how about y'all help pick up apples in the north field. You don't have to carry the apples back to the barn just knock em out of the trees and place them in the baskets. Me, Babs and granny will handle the rest."

The cows looked at one another, each one making a motion to agree or disagree with a raised hoof. After a hasty vote the decision among them was unanimous; they would all help with the gathering of apples.

"Looks like we all agree. C'mon girls, we got work to do." The cows all formed a line and headed toward the north field, some of them singing a tune to themselves that was oddly reminiscent of 'off to work we go'.

"Well, that's one less field I have to do. I should probably check on Babs, she might need help with them baskets." Big Mac Turned west but before he could make his way to the field he noticed a blue colored streak heading in his direction. It started out small, like a blue spec in the sky, but moved toward him in a unnatural fashion, zigging and zagging as it approached the farm.

"Oh no, Aleiums!" Big Mac dived behind a nearby outhouse, covering his nose from the stench. "I remember reading in the tabloids that they move strange right before abducting us country folk."

The blue spec moved faster, it was coming right for Big Mac.

I need to get inside, before they beam me up! Big Mac made a run for the barn when the blue object slammed into him, spinning them both out of control. "Please don't probe me!" Big Mac yelled as he landed on his back, the blue blur landing behind him in a heap on the ground.

"Ow, ow, ow. What's the big deal Mac? Running out in front of me when I'm coming in for a landing like that." A raspy voice said.

Big Mac had his hooves over his eyes. "Please don't take me, I'm just a simple farm pony!" He could hear the rustle of the grass as the alien moved toward him.

"I'm not going to take you anywhere ya big goof. Take your hooves off your eyes." The voice replied.

Big Mac slowly pulled his hooves from his face and looked up. A pair of medium purple eyes were staring down on him quizzically. It was a light cyan pegasus with grey hair they seemed to be in different shades of grey rather than just one solid color.

"D-do I know you?" Big Mac asked, perplexed. He had seen this pony before but didn't know where.

"Of course you know me, you dunce. I'm the fastest pony in Ponyville!" The mare stepped back pridefully and spread her wings.

"Thunderlane?" Big Mac asked.

"Thunderlane, really? That slacker? I'm offended Big Mac." The mare turned her back to Big Mac, huffing angrily.

Big mac noticed that this pony had the same cutie mark as Rainbow Dash. "Ummm Rainbow Dash? Is that you?"

"Who else would it be? Do you know any other ponies with my kind of speed, cutie mark or long rainbow ma-oh...yeah, that." Rainbow Dash blushed. "Sorry about that, forgot ponies don't recognize me while my mane and tail are like this." Rainbow Dash ran her foreleg through her mane and let it sit on her leg. "The medicine they gave me for that flu that was going around kind of had a nasty side effect of draining all the color out of my mane and tail."

"I hope it's not permanent, it makes ya look way older than ya are." Big Mac said as he looked back at granny Smith, still sound asleep on a bail of hay.

"It does not. I think it makes me look more like Daring Doo but no, it's only for a couple weeks. My color will come back after the medicine is out of my system. It's also messing with my voice and making my flight balance all wonky. If I didn't know any better I would say I have all the flight balance of Derpy right about now." Rainbow Dash frowned, staring back at her wings.

"Well anywho, what brings ya to the farm? Wanna buy some apples?" Big Mac asked.

"Nah, I like cider and all but I'm more of a pear kinda mare." Rainbow Dash leaned in close to Big mac and lowered her voice. "But don't tell Apple Jack I said that, I'll never hear the end of it from her if she found out."

Big Mac chuckled. "Sure thing, I remember when Rarity said she was more of a grape lover. Apple Jack pulled out her '101 reasons why apples are the best fruit' book and wouldn't stop badgering Rarity for a month. Anywho, what can I do ya for?"

"Well I just got news from Fluttershy that Apple Jack and Rarity will be out of a coma soon. I been flying around town telling all our friends so we can visit them when they wake up." Rainbow Dash said.

"Hey! Big Mac!"

Rainbow Dash and Big Mac turned their attention to the road leading up to the barn. Scootaloo was coming up to the barn, yelling Big Mac's name.

"Over here Scoots!" Big Mac yelled while waving one of his forelegs.

Scootaloo hopped off her scooter and rushed up to Big Mac. "I have great news, Apple Jack is-....who's the new pony next to you?" Scootaloo stared at Rainbow Dash for a moment. "Big Sis?"

"Yeah I know, I'm much less rainbow right now and not exactly dash either. By the way though I beat ya to it. I already told Big Mac and everypony else about the situation at the hospital." Rainbow Dash said.

"Oh, well. I guess I can race you back after I get my helmet from the house if you want." Scootaloo said.

"I don't think you could beat me in an air race squirt. Even if I'm a bit unbalanced for flying at the moment." Rainbow Dash gloated.

"No I mean, race me on the ground. My scooter vs your running." Scootaloo proposed.

Rainbow Dash put her hoof on her chin and stared over Scootaloo. "Sure, I can probably do that. Go fetch your helmet squirt and meet me by the front of this barn."

Scootaloo gave an excited 'squee' sound and ran off to fetch her helmet, leaving Rainbow Dash and Big Mac some time alone.

"So, how you folks holding up? I remember Apple Bloom couldn't stop crying for hours after she found out. I even noticed you shed a few tears. That's not something I see you do often." Rainbow Dash asked.

"Me and granny wanted to cry but we have to be strong, for Apple Bloom and Apple Jack's sake. Besides, if she's wakin up then that must be good. I still don't know how granny managed to hold back her tears though, granny loves us all like we were her own children but she especially protective of Apple Bloom and Apple Jack." Big Mac sighed somberly. "Too bad she decided to take a nap, I'm sure she woulda liked to hear Apple Jack's voice sooner rather than later."

"It will be okay Big Mac, she deserves her rest. She's been working herself too hard these past few days as is. I'm kinda surprised though, Scoots seems a bit more enthusiastic than I would have expected her to be. I mean, you guys are like a second family to her." Rainbow Dash watched as Scootaloo looked though some tools by the house for her helmet.

"You didn't know?" Big Mac asked.

"Know what?" Rainbow Dash replied.

"Scootaloo doesn't have a first-" Big Mac had to cut himself short as Scootaloo ran within earshot, her helm strapped to her head. "Never mind I'll tell ya later."

"So Big Sis, you ready to get beaten down by the master of Scooters?" Scootaloo asked in a triumphant tone.

"Pfft, you sound confident. Just don't blame me when you lose by a landslide." Rainbow Dash replied.

"Let's hope no landslides are involved in this race. I don't want to have to stop and fetch your pet turtle, Tank." Scootaloo said sarcastically.

"Hey, that was a low blow!" Rainbow Dash protested.

Big Mac was holding his sides with laughter. "Better call the fire department on that one Rainbow Dash."

Rainbow Dash frowned. "We will see who's burning who when I leave you in molten dust, Scootaloo."

"Any time you're ready 'granny' Dash." Scootaloo stuck her tongue out at Rainbow Dash and blew her a raspberry.

"Big Mac, give us a goal marker and a call." Rainbow Dash arced her back and set herself low for a fast takeoff.

"Okay then. First one to the hospital is the winner. On your marks, get set,...GO!" Big Mac yelled.

The two ponies took off, both of them leaving a trail of dust, dirt and grass clippings in their wake. Both of them neck and neck, until they were no longer in sight.

"Well, I better go get Babs Seed. She will prolly want to visit too." Big Mac hopped over the fence leading toward the north field when he stopped. "Maybe I shouldn't tell anypony about Scootaloo...it almost seems better that way."

***

"What seems to be the holdup Twilight?" Fluttershy asked as the nurse at the desk shook her head.

"From what I could talk out of the doctors, Luna has called for first visit rights. She said she had to deal with a sensitive situation, about what though I couldn't tell." Twilight said.

"Could you just ask Princess Celestia? I know you can send letters to her whenever you want through Spike." Fluttershy looked at Spike as he scratched behind his head scales.

"I wrote one. Spike sent out word and then an additional letter when I got here." Twilight said.

"Just be patient Fluttershy. Celestia can be a bit slow with the response time, especially when she has afternoon court to deal with. I mean- urp!" Suddenly Spike burped and a puff of sparkling green smoke came from his mouth, forming into a curled up parchment bearing the Princess Celestia's seal.

"Oh, there we go." Twilight grabbed the parchment from the air with her magic and unfurled it. She began to read the letter aloud for Spike and Fluttershy.

"Dear Twilight, Princess Luna is in charge of most of the competitions workings while I have taken up both her day and some of her night court duties. I am not privy to most of the minor workings but I remember her saying that she needed to speak with Apple Jack and Rarity about a problem with their team application. Beyond that I am just as clueless as you are. Do not worry though I am sure Luna will resolve the problem with all due haste."

"Your Teacher,

Princess Celestia."

Twilight folded up the letter and put it into her saddle bag. "Well I guess that's something to go on. She shouldn't be up there long then."

"But, but Twilight, what if they didn't cross their T's and dotted their I's properly? They could be kicked out of the competition entirely!" Fluttershy said in a panicked tone.

"I think that would be the last of their worries. I mean they are pretty much not fit for any competition since they got sick. The first elimination round starts in just a month or so, I doubt they will be well enough to finish building their tank AND be well enough to participate." Spike said.

Twilight rolled her eyes. "That may be true but knowing how stubborn Apple Jack can be, I wouldn't put it past her to try anyhow. As much as she would hate it I'm kinda hoping Luna boots her from the competition, for her own health."

"Yeah, I guess you're right. She needs a lot of bed-rest and the last thing she needs is to be worried about some silly competition. I hope Rarity isn't too upset about it though." Fluttershy said.

"I don't think so. Rarity has been wanting to take a vacation every summer for the past two or three. This is the chance for her to head off to Costa Del Sol for some sun and relaxation. It's not like she was really invested in this, she was kinda just the only unicorn not assigned a team." Twilight said.

"Oh well, not like it's the end of the world or anything. Think I can talk Rarity into taking me with her on vacation?" Spike said enthusiastically.

Twilight put her hoof over her face and dragged it down past her mouth while shaking her head.

"Oh don't be that way Twilight. Spike is just trying to spend some time with the pony he loves, there's nothing wrong with that." Fluttershy ruffled Spike's head scales affectionately.

"Yeah I might even be able to talk her into wearing that blue swimsuit you were wearing last summer, Twilight." Spike said enthusiastically.

Fluttershy's face went red, immediately followed by Twilight doing the same. "Oh, ummm, hey look at that." Twilight pointed though the glass door at Scootaloo taking off her helmet in an effort to change the subject. Scootaloo was folding up her scooter, a giant triumphant smirk on her face.

Twilight, Fluttershy and Spike walked outside to greet Scootaloo, the orange pegasus greeting them exuberantly.

"Hi, Twilight, Fluttershy and Spike. You won't believe what happened." Scootaloo could barely contain her joy as she waited with baited breath for them to ask what happened.

"Errr....what happened?" Twilight asked.

"That happened!" Scootaloo pointed to another pony just coming onto the field in front of the hospital. "I beat Rainbow Dash in a ground race!"

Rainbow Dash looked as if she was going to collapse but when she noticed her friends watching, she quickly changed her stature as if nothing was wrong. "Yeah, yeah. So you beat me in a foot race." Rainbow Dash yelled up the hill. "I am still recovering from being sick, I demand a rematch when I'm better." Rainbow Dash flapped her wings, carrying her up the hill where she landed in front of the group.

"Anyways, you're fast on that Scooter. I look forward to racing you when I'm back in peak condition." Rainbow Dash gloated, doing her best to disguise her heavy panting for air.

"But Rainbow, the inoculation only drained your col-" Twilight got a quick glare from Rainbow Dash. Twilight smiled "Oh, never mind then."

"Anyways why aren't you gals upstairs visiting Apple Jack and Rarity?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"We can't, Luna is up there dealing with some kinda problem with their competition entry. Not that it would really matter though, neither of them are in any condition to compete or a position to complain about being disqualified." Twilight explained.

"Wait, what kind of entry problem?" Scootaloo asked.

"You know exactly what kind of entry problem."

Scootaloo looked over the Twilight. Standing right behind her was Princess Luna, a very stern expression on her face.

Twilight noticed Rainbow Dash bowing and turned around, automatically going into a bow herself, Fluttershy following suit soon after.

"We have much to speak about young pegasus." Princess Luna said.

"If you will pardon my ignorance Luna, but what does Scootaloo have to do with a problem with the entry application?" Fluttershy asked meekly. Before Luna could answer Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle popped up from either side of Luna's back legs, both of them staring at Scootaloo with saddened, puppy-dog-like eyes.

"Sorry Scoots she asked us who signed us up as alternates for the competition and well-" Apple Bloom said.

"She said if we didn't tell her who did it she would make us pay back all the bits we were loaned. Do you know how long it would take to pay back a thousand bits?" Sweetie Belle complained. "That's like thirty years of allowance, at least."

Twilight giggled to herself. "Luna, you're such a trickster, you know you can't levy fines against an under age pony. Nor could you make them pay it back from the loan, as stated per contract you could only disqualify Apple Jack and Rarity for non-disclosure."

Luna sighed. "That may be but forgery is still a very bad thing to do, something I thought these three and their cousin were above." Luna gave a narrow stare at Scootaloo and then back the the other two fillies by her back legs.

"Scootaloo...what does Luna mean by forgery?" Rainbow Dash asked.

"I don't know, I don't remem...oh." It struck Scootaloo like lightning, they had entered their names on the alternates list for piloting the tank just in case the main crew could not perform their duties. "We kinda, sorta forged Apple Jacks signature to register us as the alternate crew for the competition."

Twilight, Fluttershy, Spike and Rainbow Dash all gasped at the same time.

"What has gotten into you girls? You should all know better." Twilight stared into the eyes of Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom, both of which folded their ears and lowered their heads in shame.

"Yeah, what's the big deal Scoots? If you wanted to be in the competition that badly you could of just asked to be on my crew." Rainbow Dash watched Luna shoot her a glare. "With parental permission of course." Rainbow corrected herself.

"Oh, my. You're not going to banish these fillies are you Luna? Or jail them? Or jail them then banish them?" Fluttershy asked.

"No, as loathe as I am at their actions sadly I cannot actually forfeit their entry. The board handling the entries did not catch the forgery in time. However Apple Jack can withdrawal the entire team once she is well enough to make the trip to Canterlot to do so." Luna said.

"Wait, you didn't tell Apple Jack or Rarity about this did you? That seems like terrible news to get just as you wake up." Fluttershy asked.

Luna shook her head. "No, I will not give them the news until they are well enough to handle it and I cannot force the withdrawal on Apple Bloom or Sweetie Belle until the elder siblings are well enough to say so. However Scootaloo and Babs seed are removed from team activities post haste. Apple Jack's signature does not count for either pony as she is not a blood relative." Luna looked at Sweetie Belle "Had Sweetie Belle's parents not been on vacation and unavialible for discussion, she would be removed as well."

Luna raised her eyebrows. "Actually, that disbands the team entirely. If memory serves the other two apple family members are too busy with the farm and all teams need a minimum of four ponies and at least one adult for supervision for ponies that have yet to come of age. Unless any of you would like to supervise them then I am left with no choice but to disband the team."

"Princess, I...may have a pony in mind that can supervise, and getting the signatures from my parents is not a problem. So you don't have to disband the team." Scootaloo pleaded.

Luna inhaled and rubbed her temples. "Very well then, but if your parents our guardians want you removed from the team then I will be there to make sure it happens. I will also need to review the credentials of this pony you want to supervise. Am I understood?"

"Yes Princess Luna." The Cutie Mark Crusaders said together.

"I will take my leave then. Scootaloo I will have a talk with your parents before the day is out about this situation. I expect you to introduce me to them tonight." Luna said as she lifted off into the air.

"Oh and one more thing, do give Apple Jack and Rarity my regards. Until we meet again, enjoy your visit." With a puff of blue smoke Luna was gone.

Scootaloo watched the sky, as the other ponies walked by her into the hospital. Twilight stopped and raised an eyebrow and spoke.

"You know, now that I think about it; I have never seen your parents, Scootaloo." Twilight said.

"Oh you know. I'm a uhh...latch key kinda pony. They aren't much around becuase of uhhh...work and stuff." Scootaloo lied. Twilight didn't look as if she was convinced but merely nodded her head and headed inside the hospital, leaving Scootaloo the only pony left.

What have I gotten myself into?

***

Scootaloo waited in her smell double room house and watched the clock closely. In just a few minutes she would have to take Luna to see something she had never revealed to a single soul. Something she didn't even trust her closest friends to know. Her eyes wandered from the clock to the note on the floor.

Meet me outside your home at eight p.m. sharp. I want you to introduce me to your parents, if your parents are not home I will need you to tell me where I can find them. Hope to see you soon, Princess Luna.

She really didn't want to show Luna where her parents where but the stipend to cover her expenses for the month was used up. She couldn't hire stand ins to keep the illusion up and even if she did Luna could easily see through the facade. It wasn't like she didn't trust Luna with what she was going to tell her, the princess of the night has probably seen thousands of secrets in her lifetime. It was the possibility of it getting out that frightened her.

A knock at the door broke Scootaloo's concentration. She looked up at the clock and realized that it was exactly eight p.m. sharp. Scootaloo Stood up, deep down she had hoped that Luna wasn't punctual or something came up.

"I'm coming!" Scootaloo walked out of her room and into her combination living room/dining room and up to the door. She took a deep breath and opened the door. Luna was standing there, a small bag in her mouth.

"Good evening Luna, welcome to my humble home. Please, come in." Scootaloo bowed and stepped to the side. Luna lowered her head and walked in, her horn maybe only two feet tops from the ceiling. "Sorry, this house has a very low ceiling, I wasn't even sure an Alicorn could fit in here."

Luna looked around for a moment and set the bag on the floor beside her. "I had to ask around to find where you live, it seemed the address I found in the town hall records hasn't been there for years.. This house isn't even marked on the town ledger anywhere either. I'll need to have a talk with the mayor about updating it. As for the low ceiling, that is fine. I am used to sometimes being a bit too tall for some homes."

Scootaloo smelled something coming from the bag on the floor. "Can I ask what's in the bag? It sure smells good."

"That little one is four separate meals to be shared with your parents, myself and you." Luna looked into the bedroom that was no more than a dozen feet away. "I daresay you all share the same bedroom?"

"Ummm...I uhhhh." She felt as if she had lost her nerve. Maybe telling Luna the truth wasn't such a good idea after all. If this got out somehow the taunting at school would never cease. "Yeah, but don't go in there, it's kind of a mess right now." Scootaloo wiped a bit of sweat from above her right eye. Luna could see only one bed in the room but had no idea how big the room was, maybe she could get away with not telling her.

"That is an extremely crowded room. It didn't look very large from the sky." Luna said as she looked down on Scootaloo.

"Oh, well you're kinda big for the whole house and all. It may be your perception becuase you know, you're so big." Scootaloo said, trying her best to sate Luna's sudden curiosity with her room.

"Very well. I assume your parents are not home then? Do you know where they are?" Luna said while staring at Scootaloo.

"Ummm...uhhhh." Scootaloo's mind froze up, she could just say they were away on business but Luna could teleport or fly anywhere in a jiffy. She could even try to talk to them through dreams, though she would get suspicious when she failed at the attempt.

"Is there something you're not telling me Scootaloo? I wish to have dinner with your family as an apology and a gift of friendship." Luna noticed that the single small table only had two chairs, one of which looked like it hadn't been used in a very long time. Luna walked toward the chair, picking up the bag and setting it on the table. When she examined the chair it only confirmed that it hadn't been used in a long time. There was a thick coating of dust on the seat as well as sporadic cobwebs on the back.

"Do...you live alone here Scootaloo? Are your parents living in a separate home or do they rarely ever come home becuase of business?" Luna continued to press Scootaloo for information.

"Luna. Stop with the questions, please." Scootaloo began to cry, being reminded of who used to sit in that other chair hurt.

"I see. Whomever used to sit in that chair was very close to you." Luna opened up the bag and pulled out two containers, setting on on either side of the table before setting the bag on the kitchen counter.

"Well since your parents are not around I guess we can eat this together if that's okay with you?" Luna opened up her container and closed her eyes, inhaling the splendid smell of steamed vegetables and spicy sauce coming from the container.

"I g-guess we can. I'll get something to dust off the other chair." Before Scootaloo could fetch a rag to clean off the chair, Luna picked up the dust and cobwebs with her magic and dropped it in a trash bin by the fridge.

"I already took care of it. Take a seat. I want to start dinner before it gets cold." Luna popped open Scootaloo's container with her magic.

Scootaloo hopped up into her chair and looked inside the container. There was a small closed cup of some kind of soup, an egg-roll, noodles with red onion fragments in it and a large serving of some kinda of deep fried substance covered in red sauce, steamed vegetables and peppers.

"I know what the egg roll is but what's this other stuff?" Scootaloo asked.

"Fried noodles and onion, Wonton soup and General Tso's tofu. My own recipe, I cooked it earlier. Celestia's likes having her chefs prepare her food but I prefer the personal touch. Be careful though, it's spicy." Luna levitated one of the bits covered in red sauce and put it in her mouth. Her face began to turned light red as she chewed and swallowed.

"These ghost peppers are bit on the spicy side. Do you have anything to drink Scootaloo?" Luna asked.

"Sure, there's some chocolate milk in the fridge as well as some juice."

Luna opened the door to the fridge from across the room and pulled out a half gallon of chocolate milk. She set it on the table and pulled two glasses out of the cupboard and set them on the table. She then quickly poured herself a glass and began drinking it as she poured Scootaloo a glass.

"You know Luna, the host is supposed to get things for a meal, not the guest." Scootaloo said as she nibbled on her egg roll.

"Oh, that. Sorry. I'm so used to letting my magic do the work that I forget others don't have that luxury. I dare say my dinner manners are not very good either. I been banned from the royal table on more than one occasion for hitting my sister with a ball of mashed potatoes." Luna set her glass down, the milk in it mostly gone.

"You mean like drinking and talking at the same time? How did you even do that without choking?" Scootaloo asked.

"Alicorn secret. Go ahead, try it. I only used light Cayenne pepper in yours, it shouldn't be too spicy."

Luna watched with excitement as Scootaloo lapped up one of the bits with her tongue, chewed it thoroughly and swallowed. "Well?"

"I can't put my hoof on it. It's got a texture I have never tasted before. Kind of tough but with no real crunch to it." Scootaloo lapped up another piece, chewed it quickly and swallowed. "It's really good though."

"I'm glad. It's based on a recipe that I got from a diamond dog, although I had to modify it as one of the ingredients as it wasn't fit for pony consumption." Luna explained.

"Which was?" Scootaloo asked as she took another bite.

Luna had a disgusted look on her face. "Are you sure you want to know?"

"Sure, it's not like whatever the bad ingredient was is in this right?"

"The recipe called for a chicken, its breast meat in particular." Luna said.

Scootaloo took another bite. "I guess that's not uncommon. Diamond dogs are predators, kinda like how griffons are."

"That's not the worst part, on the bottom of the recipe, scratched out; was a ingredient that I couldn't fathom they would actually eat." Luna seemed to not want to tell Scootaloo what the original ingredient was.

"C'mon, it can't be THAT bad. Can it?" Scootaloo asked.

"The last alternate crossed out ingredient is pegasus wing meat." Luna lowered her head. "I can't imagine what it must be like to be killed for food."

"I can't either and I hope I never know or experience that happening to me or anypony else." Scootaloo continued to enjoy her meal, as if Luna had barely said anything at all.

"Odd, you continue to eat, unfazed. Most ponies you age would have stopped at such a terrible revelation. Why is it that you're untroubled by this?" Luna asked.

"Well we had a big section in school about predators and I kinda checked out the wrong book from the library. Me, Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle got the adult version of the book on predators. It was, well, very detailed on what predators kill and eat. Pictures and everything." Scootaloo explained as she ate the last bit of her Tso's tofu before moving on to her noodles.

"So that doesn't bother you?" Luna seemed puzzled.

"Nope. Sometimes you can't fight your own biology. Besides I eat lunch across from Snips and Snails, both of them showing off how they can hover boogers over their meal, nasty." Scootaloo opened up her soup and dunked her egg roll in it.

"And ponies say I have bad table manners." Scootaloo and Luna shared a laugh together.

"I know, colts, what ya gonna do?" Scootaloo picked up her soup and drank it as if it were water. "This stuff is really good. I didn't peg you for a chef, Luna."

Luna blushed. "It's isn't much but I do hope your parents complement me on my cooking as you have. It feels nice to be recognized for a skill other than being a Princess every so often."

Scootaloo nearly choked on the last part of her egg roll. She was having such a good time that she had almost forgotten why Luna was here to begin with. "Luna?"

"Yes?" Luna replied.

"You said you came here with the food as an apology?" Scootaloo asked.

"I did. I wanted to say I was sorry for my earlier outburst, I was in no position to scold you as if I was your parent. What you did was undoubtedly wrong but my reaction was out of bounds, your parents are the ones with that authority. I dare say that sometimes I act like a mother to everypony, just like my sister." Luna said.

Scootaloo didn't know what to say. The fear of her secret getting out terrified her to no end but the guilt of lying to not only a pony of considerable power but to a pony she considered a friend was eating away at her.

"Luna, it's me that should be apologizing, for what I did and what I'm about to show you. I just hope you can keep a secret and forgive me later for it." Scootaloo closed the lid on her container and hopped down off the chair. "Do you fancy yourself a walk tonight?"

"Sure, can I ask what for though?" Luna asked as she closed the lid on her container. She seemed as if she was intentionally ignoring Scootaloo's earlier comments.

"Nothing big, just want to introduce you to my parents." Scootaloo opened the front door. "Shall we?" Scootaloo watched apprehensively as Luna got out of her chair and walked outside. Scootaloo closed the door behind her and walked ahead.

"So your parents are in town after all. It's odd though, the two ponies described to me by your friends were no where in town today. I am eager to meet them though." Luna said.

"It's a good twenty minute walk from here. I hope your don't have anywhere important to be tonight." Scootaloo said, as she made a left turn on to an abandoned road.

"As a matter of fact I have night court in a couple hours. Should we just fly there? It would be a lot faster." Luna suggested.

"I thought about that but halfway there is nothing but tree's covering the path. Besides, I kinda can't fly." Scootaloo picked up her pace from a walk to a light trot.

"Very well then. Lead the way." Luna replied.

***

Scootaloo slowed her pace as she watched the sides of the road for any movement. She knew deep down that with Princess Luna close by she didn't need to be so cautious but she had heard rumors of a pack of timber-wolves occasionally in the area. Now that she thought about it there was a reason she always took the long way around to see her parents; the main path was not well lit by the moon, and spiderwebs were in the trees all around it. It was as if the entire path was a perpetual Nightmare Night.

"I must say Scootaloo, your parents live in a remote area." Luna said as she swatted down a spider web blocking her path, much to the protest of the spider on it.

"We are almost there, see?" Scootaloo pointed to an old sign being held up over the path by two very rusty wrought iron poles.

"Err...where is 'there'" Luna tried to read what was on the sign but whatever was written on it was covered by a thick moss.

Scootaloo continued ahead but stopped in front of the entrance and sat in the road. "Luna, what I'm about to show you should stay between both of us."

Luna nodded her head in agreement, though why her parents abode needed to be a secret was beyond her. Scootaloo moved on ahead and Luna followed. They walked into what looked like an open meadow with mossy strange shaped rocks all around. There was barely any light coming from the moon above due to a light fog in the air, a fog that only added to the unsettling atmosphere. Scootaloo continued along but Luna's curiosity got the better of her. One of the rocks ahead was covered in moss and while Scootaloo was busy leading the way Luna lit up her horn and brushed the moss of the flattest part of the stone. The could make out words etched in the stone, though time had done serious damage and she could only just make out the writing.

"Here lies Darius Moonstruck, may he bask in the glory of the moon on the other side."

Luna racked her brain for a moment as she slowly began to fall behind Scootaloo. She knew she heard the surname Moonstruck before. After a moment of thinking it struck her. Wait, wasn't the name of Albus Moonstruck's son Darius? It couldn't be, Darius was born just under three months before she was banished to the moon for a millennium. If his eternal resting place was here than that would mean.

No, Maybe Scootaloo's parents are grave keepers... Luna looked around, none of the graves or grounds were very well kept. It actually looked as if no pony; aside from a handful of relatively moss free graves, had been here in a very long time. Maybe they are just very poor at their...

Luna tried to delude herself into resisting the belief she knew in her heart was true. It all made sense now, Scootaloo's hesitation, her parents gone all the time, the small house set away from prying eyes.

"Luna?" Scootaloo turned to Luna, she was sitting down in front of a moss free grave, although the copper boarder had long turned to corroded green.

Luna walked up beside Scootaloo and her heart sank. Either this was an exceptionally elaborate prank or Scootaloo's parents where-

"Here lies Cidolfus Hyral and Vespa Loo, taken away from us tragically. May their spirits find a way to the other side and may they always watch their daughter, Scootaloo, from afar." Luna's heart sank. Unlike the other graves the words on this one were clear as day. Scootaloo was an orphan, but how she kept this from everypony for so long eluded her. She sat down and put her wing over the young pegasus, bowing her head in respect.

There was no need for words, nothing needed to be said. All Scootaloo's strange behavior was now crystal clear. The only questions that burned in her mind was how and why. Why did a pony of her age not get registered into the orphan home system to find a loving family? How did she end up an orphan to begin with? Luna searched for the courage to ask those questions but nothing came out, she was just feeling too sad to pry into Scootaloo's past. She had to know though, her curiosity easily overpowering her common sense.

"Scootaloo, you must know that I have many questions. It may be an inappropriate time for me to ask but-"

Scootaloo hugged Luna, her tears running freely and soaking her fur. She sat there, for a few moments, crying and sniffling. Luna Patted her head, it must have been a massive burden to keep such a secret from all her friends and even a larger one to not be consumed by jealousy.

Scootaloo broke the hug and wiped her eyes.

"Well...from what I was told...