• Published 9th Nov 2017
  • 1,782 Views, 62 Comments

Tracks in the Sand - DwarvishPony



Pinkie Pie discovers friendship amidst the ruins of Canterlot.

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Chapter 2

Pinkie groaned as she reached the top of what must have been the hundredth new sandy hill this afternoon. Her damp shirt clung to her, making her even more miserable in the heat. “Just one more hill...” she gasped, desperately lying to her legs so they wouldn’t give out.

Three hills later and the top of the train station came into view. Pinkie grinned, new life flooding through her as she jumped forward and slid her way down to the entrance with a cry of jubilation.

“Sunset! I’m back!”

No answer. Pinkie shrugged and stepped further into the ruins to look for her… boss? Employer? Pinkie wasn’t sure what to call Sunset. She settled on ‘Sunset’.

Pinkie pressed on, carried by a strange mix of worry and curiosity. Maybe Sunset wasn’t home? Maybe Sunset didn’t even live here. That was a worrying thought. Where would she be then?

Pinkie poked her head into one of the train cars. The interior was a mess of rubble and refuse, but it didn’t have a Sunset. The next car proved to be the same. Car three was a jackpot.

The third car was clearly a home. A worn and faded dresser had been dragged in, decorated with small knick-knacks. Most of the windows, what remained of them, had been covered with ratty sheets and blankets to block light from entering. On the far end, a mattress sat, piled high with pillows and cushions. Pinkie barely resisted the urge to flop onto the comfortable looking bed.

“What are you doing in here?!”

Pinkie nearly jumped out of her skin.

“Nothing! I was looking for you, please don’t stab me!” Pinkie spun and stumbled back until she hit the wall of the train car.

“You’re the scavenger.” Sunset seemed to relax a little. Probably. It was hard to tell with the mask hiding her face.

Pinkie nodded frantically, glancing about for any sign of Sunset’s spear. She let out a sigh of relief when she realized Sunset was unarmed. She was also crouched down on all fours. Pinkie tried not to stare as she slipped her backpack off.

“I brought you your magic books. The ones about magic. They’re not magical themselves, that’d be silly.” Pinkie snorted. She pulled out a small stack of books from her bag and handed them to Sunset.

Sunset spun away from Pinkie and crawled over to her bed, already engrossed in one of the books by the time she sat down. Pinkie frowned, questions nagging at her as she silently watched Sunset until the woman looked up again.

“You’re still here?”

“Do you live here?” Pinkie blurted out, opening the floodgates to her curiosity. “What do you eat? Where do you go to the bathroom? Does anyone else live here? Why don’t you move to one of the settlements?” The questions continued with Pinkie oblivious to Sunset shrinking back into the cushions behind her. “What do you do for fun—”

“Shut up!” A pillow flew down the train car and bapped Pinkie in the face. “Get out!”

“I-I’m sorry.” Pinkie bit her lip, trying to fight back the tears welling up. “I’ll go…”

Pinkie trudged into the empty wastes, desperate to put as much distance between her and the train station as possible.

***

Pinkie struck camp in the lobby of one of the old world’s towering buildings, taking advantage of the relative safety should another sandstorm roll through. She allowed herself a small campfire on the worn concrete floor. A small pot of soup bubbled merrily over the flames, oblivious to the mood of the woman tending the meal.

“You really messed up today, Pinkie,” she scolded herself. “Now Sunset’s all mad at you, just like everyone else.” A huff of frustration escaped her.

“You won’t get mad at me, will you Gummy?” Pinkie scooped up a tiny green alligator and held him close to her chest. Gummy silently blinked in response. “Thanks, Gummy. You always know just what to say.”

Pinkie set Gummy next to her and removed her soup from the heat of the flames, tucking in when it had sufficiently cooled.

“What do you think I should do about Sunset?” Pinkie asked around a mouthful of soup. Gummy tilted his head to the side. “Huh… I never thought about it like that. So you think she was just scared?”

Gummy’s mouth opened, revealing a distinct lack of teeth, but he made no sound.

“I guess I did ask her a lot of questions.” Pinkie pointed her spoon down at the alligator. “You’re right, though, I should go back and apologize. I’m sure if I ask less questions she’ll be okay. Maybe I can even help her with her reading!”

Pinkie scraped the last of her soup from the pot and held it out for Gummy to eat. Almost all of the food ended up on the ground.

“Wow, you sure are a messy eater for such a smart little gator.” She giggled. “This is why we can’t eat in public.”

After dinner, the campfire was stamped out and dirt kicked on top of it for good measure. A sleeping bag was rolled out and Pinkie quickly fell asleep thinking of what she would say to Sunset tomorrow. Gummy curled up next to Pinkie’s head, following the girl into dreamland.

***

“You’re back.” Sunset said flatly from her bed, having apparently not moved since Pinkie had left yesterday. She stared at Pinkie and waited for an explanation. Probably. It was hard to tell because she still had that horse mask on.

“Mhmm.” Pinkie nodded, chewing on her lower lip.

“Why?”

“You looked lonely.”

“I wear a mask.”

“Not your face, silly.” A smile threatened to creep onto Pinkie’s face. “It’s... other stuff.”

“Other stuff?” Sunset reached over and grabbed a cushion, preparing a fluffy projectile.

“I just mean that I think I was scary yesterday! I was asking you all those questions and rambling and not letting you talk and I’m doing it again and I’m so sorry! My mouth just starts talking and I keep going and I—” Sunset’s cushion missile landed a direct hit. Pinkie took the opportunity of her own momentary silence to take a deep breath. “I needed that. Sorry.”

“I aim to please.” Sunset quipped without missing a beat, drawing a snort from Pinkie. “Is there a real reason you came back?”

“I…” Pinkie floundered. The truth of the matter was that she had spoken the truth the first time she had been asked. “I was looking for more work.” She decided a lie would be easier to believe.

“I don’t have any work for you.”

“Are you sure? I could clean up the place, or I could help you read your books. I promise not to doodle in them unless you ask me to.” Pinkie gave a strained smile.

Sunset was silent for some time before she stood and walked out of the train car, beckoning Pinkie to follow. She lead the pink-haired girl down one of the platforms and into a room with pipes and an ominously silent tank against one wall. The other wall had been covered in bookcases and makeshift shelves that held more books that Pinkie thought could be safe.

“I need you to alphabetize these.”

“All of these?” Pinkie asked in wide-eyed astonishment.

“No, only the blue ones—” Pinkie could practically hear Sunset roll her eyes behind the mask. “Yes, all of them!”

“Okey-dokey!” Pinkie straightened up and saluted as Sunset turned to leave. “Wait!” Sunset hesitated and looked over her shoulder. “What are you paying me?”

“Paying?” Sunset sounded mildly offended.

“Well, you said it was work… Normally that means you’re gonna pay me after.”

“I don’t have anything to spare.”

“Well, that’s fine. You can just take off your mask.”

“I’m not giving you my mask.”

“No, not to give it to me.” There was a mirth to Pinkie’s voice. “I wanna see your face.”

“My… face?” Sunset asked. Pinkie nodded vigorously. “I— maybe.” She mumbled. “Maybe…” She wandered off, murmuring to herself.

Pinkie took a step back and eyed the bookshelves. Saying there were a lot of books was an understatement. Books had been crammed onto every conceivable surface available, and once there was no more shelf space Sunset had stacked them on top of each other. Gummy poked his head out of a gap between two books.

“We have our work cut out for us, Gummy.” Pinkie’s face fell. “A lot of work.”