• Published 23rd Apr 2017
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7DSJ: Downtempo - Shinzakura



7DSJ Sidestory. Sometimes you can't escape truth. And worse, sometimes it comes after you.

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March 26, AM: Somersault

I’m standing on top of a mountain, and the night sky is above me, a deep blue shroud rained upon by countless stars. I don’t know what mountain this is: it’s not Shasta or Lassen, given that I can’t see the bright lights of Canterlot and its suburbs, which I’m told is so bright you can see it all the way from the summit of Lassen. The other “big” (and I use that term loosely) town in the area I should see if I were near Lassen: Ponyville. Even though it’s a mostly rural town, there’s enough of a civilization there that I should see something, right?

But I see nothing. Only the endless darkness below, as if the world was plunged into inky depths. I shudder involuntarily, though I don’t know whether that’s from the majestic black stretching before me, or the rocky summit beneath my feet. I force myself to look away from it to avoid both vertigo and the potential for anything else.

It’s then that I see something above me that makes me wonder where I am: the sky. It is a deep blue, filled with so many colors and sights that I cannot comprehend it. I remember a time when we all went to the top of Shasta to go stargazing back in November; that was a blast, and Twily had both her and her dad’s telescopes, and all of us looked at the beautiful skies above.

I don’t recognize any of these constellations. Where are the Big and Little Dippers? Hydra? Bootes? I can’t spot a single one, and I have to wonder if I’m somewhere else in my dream.

And then I see it.

The Moon, Luna…the place Ms. Luna was named after, I’m sure. Only…it’s not our moon. I don’t see the Man in the Moon, or what those in the Far East call the Rabbit in the Moon. All it is, is a blank gray ball of rock, pocked with craters like ours, but missing the dark, distinctive maria that created myths and emblems of culture. An otherwise completely unnatural edifice in the celestial firmament and another sign I don’t belong here.

“‘Tis a quaint night, isn’t it?” I turn to see a girl my age…and oh, when the hell did I step into a RenFaire? She’s got long, golden hair braided down and held in place by a golden clasp. Her blue eyes are piercing and knowing, as if she’s seen a lot. She’s wearing armor, but it looks like something out of Fire Emblem or the Fate series: a silvery sheen, with golden inlay, polished to a brilliant shine. Her gambeson is made of a luxurious silk of black, as is her surcoat, without ornament or device. She’s carrying a dozen roses, and at her side is a bastard sword with a hilt and crossguard that seems to be made out of crystal.

“Um…yeah,” I tell her, and she gives me a smile.

“Worry not, stranger, I understand thee. Thy speech is unusual, but still His Majesty's English.” She then walks over to something I hadn’t noticed before: a sword, embedded in a stone. Yes, I’ve been to Disneyland when I was a kid and I got to pull the sword partially up from the stone in Fantasyland, but this is the real deal. Like Clarent, the sword from the Matter of Britain that said Arthur was to be King of the Britons, long before some watery tart gave him a pigsticker.

Yes, I’ve seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Great film.

“Is that…?” I ask.

She sets the flowers down. “I tend this cairn whenever I can, because of a gage. I swore yond I at each moment wouldst, and assumed the duty. I still hast this holidam hath kept after all this.” She then looks at me with a glance of expectation. “But anon this duty shall cometh to its ende, grant you mercy to thee.”

“I…I don’t understand,” I tell her.

“Thou servest the Rose, just as I the Quill. These duties art beyond life, and sworn fealties of eternity.” Setting down the roses before the sword, she comes over and hugs me. “‘Tis most wondrous to see a fellow Guardswoman. I at each moment bethought I wast high-lone, but anon I hast a counterpart, someone who shall ken this heavy burden.”

“Counterpart?”

She looks at me and then clarity fills her face. “Ah! ‘Tis not thy time yet! Yond might not but art wherefore thou weareth this strange garb instead of the armor of thy station! Mine own apologies, fellow swordswoman. But lief, thee and I shalt tend to our eternal duties, and we shalt serve our regents with capability and honor.” She looked at my hair. “Prithee, tell me thus: Wherefore is thy hair the color of the first rays of dawn in the sky?”

“Why’s my hair pink? It’s natural. It’s why my name is Pinkie! Okay, well, Pinkamena, and it’s more than just that, but it makes sense, sorta.”

“How wondrous.” I hear her laugh once more, and it sets me at ease. She may have stepped off the set of Game of Thrones, but she seems nice enough.

“I remember the time before: I wast the daughter of the stablemaster of our lord’s estate, a young wench worth less than mine brother, who wast already pledged a squire to one of the lord's knights. As for me, if it be true I wast fortuned, mine own fate wouldst be to marrye a valorous sir and beare that gent children. But then I wast walking through the moors near the abbey in Ponyshire, and I tumbled in. I bethought I wast dead – naught valorous cometh of falling into a bog! But then I wast withdrawn by these wondrous creatures who feared me for reasons I knew not. Those gents tooke me afore their queen, and the lady did look at me with eyes of faith, as if it be true the lady were mine own mother.

“The lady spake to me I wast special, yond our kind were feared amongst the peoples, but yond the lady couldst ken I wast cut from a different cloth. And yond the lady did need a fearless maiden, one yond wouldst roam the leagues in her name and protecte her people forever. Yond I wouldst be the Free Knight, beholden to none but her. And the lady did train me, both in swordcraft and the arcane arts, and though I shall never bear mine own children, I hast been honored with something most wondrous: an immortal duty to defend those in need. A holidam thee too shall lief take.”

She pointed there.“ I am the Free Knight, bearing mine sword in the name of mine own grand mistress, the Quill. Someday, thee shall take yond blade and beare‘t in the name of thy sovereign, her Free Knight serving an ancient duty.” She drew her own sword. “The Rose shall have need of thee, and as mine own blade Carnwennan stands at mine own side, someday yond shall be thy arms.”

I looked at the sword and wondered why I would. I was probably getting tetanus just looking at it. It wasn’t like those art blades you see in stores all the time, but something that had been up here since, well, probably forever and I wasn’t touching that unless I had a metric fuckton of WD40 and a hazmat suit…and probably not after that, either.

“Take it.” I turn to see an old man standing there, in rusted armor, looking sad and forlorn. “I couldst not save mine own mistress at which hour t’was time, I couldst not giveth her happiness. Thee wilt at each moment see to thine – thou hast already done blest thine lady at which hour she did need it.”

“Are you kidding me?” I tell them both. “I can name at least seven different diseases I could get just by being in that thing’s vicinity! And you want me to touch it?”

“The sword knoweth its true master. I wast once’t, but I did fail mine own true love, mine own sovereign at which hour the lady did need me most. Thou has’t succeeded where I couldst not – thou art a true Free Knight. And at which hour the time cometh, the sword shall ken thee.”

The girl smiles.“ Now behold, Free Knight of the Rose, and see Sooth.”

I turn to look at the sword, and it’s…different. The hilt seems to have been made from the vines of a rose, even the thorns, but somehow I know they cannot hurt me. The guard is made of gold, and on it are three balloons, all gleaming brightly as if their only presence is to spread joy.And the blade itself? It is now gleaming metal, silvery and shiny, with a channel filigreed with gold.

I walk over to the sword and touch it; it yearns to be withdrawn. I do and as I do, my clothing changes. Armor of silver, inlaid with blue, yellow and pink, cover me. My gambeson and surcoat are pink, and of a beautiful silk that feels like a second skin. The armor looks like something out of an anime, but it feels natural, like a dress Rarity put together. And everything at that moment feels right.

The old man and the girl give me a smile, then bow before me, giving me the due of a fellow Guardian.

And I know the sword’s name instantly.

Boop.

I sit up with a start, and think about the dream I just had. I did have a dream, did I? I remember a girl who thought I had a weird hair color (pink isn’t exactly rare) and some old man. There was a mountain? Night?

I shake my head. I don’t remember anything. Probably wasn’t important, anyway.

Besides, I have plans for today and I don’t have any particular reason to stick around here.


I go downstairs, and sure as a rooster would crow at sunup (or so the cliché says), my mother and my aunt are in the kitchen, making breakfast and bickering. At this point, I have to assume that’s how they express any feelings towards each other, because I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t even know each other were it not for the fact that they’re related. Dad is already getting ready for the day, and Uncle Carrot is feeding the kids. Seems like I was the last one up. Oh well.

Auntie Cup notices me first. “Good morning, Pinkie! Plans for today?”

I give my aunt my sunniest smile, and out of the corner of my eye I see my mother frowning; I guess she’s expected that I should have given it to her, instead. I try not to wilt.

“Pinkamena, can I have a word with you?” I turn to see my father, giving me a concerned look. I don’t even need to guess what gave me away, stupid hair.

“Um, sure, Dad, what’s up?” I ask as he leads me to the living room. I can see Uncle Carrot wanting to follow along, given that he usually handles the parenting stuff for me, but a quick look between him and Dad changes his mind.

A few seconds later, he and I sit down on the couch. “Pinkamena, are you and your mother still having issues?” Before I can even answer, he looks at me. “I know life here isn’t easy for you, sweetheart. You were never meant for this life, and from everything Carrot and Cup have told me, you excel there in Canterlot. You have some of the best grades in school and you’re the star of the cheerleaders—”

“I wouldn’t go that far, Dad,” I tell him. Seriously. Sweet Swings and Somersault are the big two when it comes to the squad. I mean, sure, I have fun, but I don’t think I could be a cheerleader for the rest of my life, dating some NFL linebacker who can only say two words and all those clichés. Sorry, no hookers and blow for this Pinkie.

“I would. Your Uncle showed me the video of the triple flip you did when CHS was playing some other school. You jumped high enough that I was honestly a bit worried, but he told me you were fine and sure enough, at the end you landed perfectly and to the roar of the crowds.” Dad looked at me and gave me the kind of smile that made me feel all gooey inside.“I’m proud of the woman you’re becoming, Pinkamena. I wish I could be there for more of it, but just knowing that you’re thriving where you are is enough for me.”

“But never enough for Mom.” The words flow out of my mouth unbidden, and the moment I realize I said them, it’s too late to take them away.

“I know, Pinkamena. I love your mother, but…well, marriage isn’t the easiest thing in the world, and you’ll find that out someday. I know you see your mother as somewhat…disciplinarian, but she’s not like that all the time. She just wants the best for her girls, and she really doesn’t quite understand the paths that you and Maud have taken.”

“I thought Maud was studying geology so she could come back to the farm?”

Dad shook his head and looks at me. “Maud? She’s more focused on that Kennelworth boy of hers than this place. Mark my words: in five years, you’re going to have a brother in law, and some school in Texas will have a new geology professor.” He shook his head again, and I watched a small smile come onto his lips.“ Like you, Maud just wasn’t made for this place. Your kid sisters will keep the family legacy going, and I’m sure they’ll have everything in their hands.”

“I wasn’t planning on coming back, Dad. This…this isn’t my life.”

“I know, sweetheart.” He gives me a look, the kind of look that lets me know he knows more than he lets on. “I never expected you to come back more than you do, nor do I expect anything different from Maud. Your mother will understand someday, I promise you.”

“And if she doesn’t?”

“She will. She has to, sweetheart. That’s just the way of the world, and there’s no one that can change it.” I know he’s wrong; probability dictates that things are always in flux and that just because you say one thing doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s permanent. The only thing permanent in this world, I suppose, is impermanence, but that’s just me.

“Now c’mon,” he tells me with a soft smile. “Breakfast is getting a run on, and I’m sure you’ve got a long day ahead of you with your friends.” He gives me a grin and another knowing look. “I know you made friends with Mrs. Amore’s daughter, and I heard you made friends with one of the girls at your mother’s Bible study sessions.”

As we walk back to the kitchen, I wonder if I’m not the only one who inherited Granny Pie’s particular talent set. But I don’t think it’s appropriate to ask my dad.

Well, not right now, anyway.

“Heya, Pinkie!” After I texted her, I decided to meet up with Jolly for a few hours, especially since Hope decided to sleep in. So after grabbing my sister’s bike, I took a very uncomfortable hour-long bike ride into town…and uncomfortable because as horrible a condition as Inkie’s (or is it Blinkie’s?) bike is in, I may as well have rode a penny-farthing into town.

Jolly, of course, arrives on a motorcycle, one she built herself in her school’s auto shop. She’s got a grin on her face that reminds me all too much of Rainbow at her worst, which means that I’m probably going to have fun. Thankfully, not in a bad way.

“Yeah, my pride and joy: a 1946 Indian,” she tells me, patting the side of her brick-red ride. “Still working out the kinks, though.” She looks at the bike I’m riding and asks, “Want to go for a ride?”

“Sure!” I chirp, hopping onto the back of the bike. I remember a conversation once I had with Sunny; she was considering saving up for a motorcycle until the warehouse she was living in was demolished. Now her foster parents won’t let her have one since they think it’s too dangerous. Besides, she says she wants a car instead, now.

A few minutes later, we’re off, and racing eastwards. We’re going as fast as possible and in order to not fall off, I’m leaning in closer to her, and as I do, I can smell her body wash, her shampoo, and it’s driving me wild. Only one person I know uses a shampoo that smells like cherry blossoms, and the body wash is lavender, which is fairly common amongst three particular girls I know.

My mind wanders again….


I look into the crater, where a girl in tattered clothing sits, crying her eyes out. Across from me, on the other side of the crater, are six girls, glowing with power, all looking down into the crater with various looks of pity and relief.Behind them is the destroyed façade of my high school, and dozens of people lying on the ground, unconscious from what just happened.

But only one face stands out from this all, and seeing that face, frightens me more than I can ever say.

After all, I have never seen myself in a killing rage before. My face is contorted in a mask of rage, all directed at Sunny. As time seems to move forward, Rarity and Fluttershy hug me, knowing what I’m feeling at the moment and how much I want to take several of the bricks from the shattered front and rain them down on the person in the crater until I crack her skull open and reduce her to bloody nothingness.

I turn away from that scene. I don’t want to remember this. I don’t want to remember how much I hated Sunny, because I don’t feel that way about her anymore. I don’t ever want to feel that way about her ever again.

I want to…


“You stupid cunt.” I turn and I’m not surprised what I see. Standing there, looking at me as if I’m damned eternally, is me, looking at me with just as much hatred at myself that I had for Sunny. “You stupid fucking cunt.”

“Stop that,” I tell the other Pinkie. This is just a fantasy, a dream, and I am not afraid of my own chastisement.

“Stop what? You should hate her!” Other Pinkie – fuck that, she doesn’t deserve my name; I’ll call her OP instead – says. “Instead, I know in the deepest part of your mind what you don’t even realize. And you’re a fucking idiot.”

“For what? For learning to forgive? For watching Sunny go through hell until I couldn’t justify treating her like I used to?” I argue with OP. It’s stupid, I know. But I’m only human, born to make mistakes.

“For getting us raped, you bitch! Or did you like being gangbanged by several guys at once? Did you like it when Flash and Atlas double teamed you? Or how about when Cicely forced you to lick her until she got her rocks off?” OP’s clothing vanishes and I see the bruises I had for weeks, the injuries I had to tell my aunt and uncle I got from practicing a little too hard.

“Aren’t you so proud of yourself?” OP tells me. “You got raped and you hid it all.You lied to the people who love you like your own. And then…” She produces a hose from nowhere and I know what happens next. They made me watch it at the Norville clinic before I….

Before I….


“PINKIE!”

I snap out of my reverie to see Jolly looking at me with horror. “Are you okay?” It’s only then that I realize that not only have we stopped, we’re both soaked. And despite the springtime sun, I shiver a little.

“You were starting to fall off my bike,” Jolly explains, “and I knew I wasn’t going to catch you in time, so I drove into the pond.” She looked at the bike, which was still soaked. “Engine’s a little waterlogged, so we’re going to be here for a few minutes.” She sighed, and I can hear her body rustle under her wet clothes. We’re a ways away from where I’m used to normally.”

I notice a tree and I walk over to it before I sit down underneath its shade. Probably not the smartest thing to do, given that I’m soaked, but whatever just happened to me I can’t…I just don’t want to….

“Pinkie, are you okay?” Jolly’s really worried for some reason.

“I….” I guess I should tell her something. “The reason I don’t live with my parents, is because I used to have a neurological disease when I was a child. I was cured of it when I was young, but as a result, I developed a really bad case of bipolar disorder. I hadn’t thought to take any medicine today, so I….” I left it at that. Granted, it was a lie, but better than telling her the truth, I suppose.

“I see,” she says. “For a minute, I thought you didn’t want to be around me.”

“Hey, you pulled me out of the river, so why wouldn’t I?” I ask her lightly. “You’re my hero – I could practically kiss you!” I tease.

“You’re joking,” she tells me.

And I know where this conversation’s going, and I don’t want it to go there. I remember Maud telling me that she was experimenting once with her then-best friend, and she found out that way she wasn’t gay. Her friend, however, was hoping it would end up with them getting a little natural. It broke their friendship up for good, sadly.

This…feels a little too much like that.

“I’m bisexual, you know,” I decide to tell her. “If you really want that kiss, I’ll give it to you…but I should let you know, I’m not attracted to you. I meant to only be just a friend and even if we did anything, long-distance relationships at our age don’t work out.”

“You’re bi?” she asks.

“Is that a problem? Because if it is, just drop me off at my bike and I won’t bother you again.”

“No, it’s….” She turns away. “Do your parents know?”

I shake my head.“ And I’d like to keep it that way, if you don’t mind.”

“Sure. Look, I wasn’t really expecting you to kiss me….”

“Good,” I tell her. She’s got a cute face, but I’ve already gotten myself in trouble once, and I don’t need to do that again. Mom freaked out when she found out Maud was just “trying out for practice”, to coin a phrase. I have no idea what she’d do to me, given my life.

She stands up and I can see something in her eyes, though I can’t read it. That’s really bothersome. “Look, Jolly….”

“No, it’s not you, Pinkie. I really don’t have a problem with you being gay, and I never thought you were here with me because you were. It’s just…that girl I was telling you about that’s bullying me? She says she’s bi, too. Said she’d even sleep with my boyfriend if I did her. Kinda creepy, plus, I don’t even have a boyfriend.”

“I see.” This is the part where I recall there’s an entry in TVTropes about Depraved Bisexuals. I mean, we’re all human and we all can’t be nice like me or…eager, like Cloud Kicker (she even withdrew her offer after I’d had my issues, though I don’t know why. I wonder if she knew….) “Look, do you want me to talk to her for you?”

“No, I…I just could use some advice,” she says, just as my phone starts chiming. Yay for waterproof phones.

“I need to take this,” I tell her.

“No problem,” she says to me. “I need to check the bike anyway. Oh, and Pinkie?”

“Yes?”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but…if I get a boyfriend, I hope he’s like you.”

I grin, despite everything, then look down at who’s calling me and that grin falls. Great, my mother. “Hello?” I answer.

“Pinkamena, didn’t I tell you to stay away from that Hope girl?”

Great, just great. More grief. “Mom, can we talk about it later? I’ll be home in…” I guess,“…an hour or so?”

“Sorry, but the rest of us have decided to head out for the night. You’ll have to take care of yourself. But I mean it: for your own good, stay away from that girl, Pinkamena. She’s probably a filthy sybarite, and I don’t want you corrupted.”

Too late, Mom. Way too damn late. “I’ll talk to you when I get home. Bye.” I end the call quickly.

When did my life become a soap opera?

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