• Published 9th Nov 2017
  • 1,787 Views, 62 Comments

Tracks in the Sand - DwarvishPony



Pinkie Pie discovers friendship amidst the ruins of Canterlot.

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Chapter 3

“How…?” Sunset trailed off, staring in awe at her freshly organized personal library.

“It wasn’t easy,” Pinkie giggled. “First I had to take all the books off and sort them and then I had to put them all back in the right order.”

“I know how you sorted them.” A sigh slipped out from under Sunset’s mask. “I mean how did you manage it? It’s been an hour, if that.”

“Well,” Pinkie said slowly, “if I’m honest, Gummy helped a bit.”

“Gummy?”

“My pet alligator. Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite.”

“You have a pet alligator.” Sunset said flatly.

“Yep.”

“A pet... alligator.”

“Mhmm.”

“How—Why— You know what? I don’t want to know.” Sunset tossed her hands in the air and turned to leave.

“Wait, what about my payment?!” Pinkie cried.

“Payment?” Sunset asked, confused. Her shoulders slumped. “Oh, right. You sure I can’t just give you a few books?” Pinkie shook her head frantically. “Fine…” Sunset reached up to her mask with both hands and—

“Are you sure you don’t want the books?” she said.

“Yep!” Pinkie leaned forward, grinning from ear to ear.

Sunset let out another defeated sigh and slowly removed her mask, revealing a rather ordinary, albeit pretty, face. Red and gold hair poked out from Sunset’s cloak, desperate for a taste of sunlight. Brilliant blue eyes looked back at Pinkie expectantly.

“Has anyone ever told you you’re really pretty? Wait, have you ever taken off your mask? Do you sleep in it? That doesn’t sound comfy at all. Did you make it—” Sunset clapped a hand over Pinkie’s mouth, silencing Pinkie before she could gain any more momentum.

“Maybe… tone it down with the questions?” Sunset asked with a frown. Pinkie nodded slowly before Sunset took her hand away.

Pinkie clenched her fists and bit her lower lip, practically vibrating on the spot as she held back her questions. Sunset pinched the bridge of her nose and let out a long sigh.

“You have more questions?” Pinkie nodded vigorously, not trusting herself to speak. “Fine… One question, though.” Sunset held up a finger for emphasis.

“Why do you wear a mask if you’re so pretty?” Pinkie’s eyes rolled back and she let out a moan of relief at letting out her question.

“You’ll think I’m crazy if I tell you.”

“No I won’t.”

“Right, because anyone who says they won’t do something doesn’t immediately do it.” Sunset’s gaze dropped to the floor as she muttered sarcastically.

“I won’t,” Pinkie said more forcefully. Her smile faded as she peered into Sunset’s eyes. Somewhere in there, Pinkie found something familiar, and she didn’t like that one bit.

“Promise?”

“Pinkie Promise.” She raised a hand, the ghost of a smile creeping back onto her face. It was infectious, and for a fraction of a moment the smile threatened to light up Sunset’s face as well.

“This mask… I made it. It’s… it’s me.” Sunset held the mask in both hands and stared down at it. The empty eyes stared back blankly.

“Is this a ‘magical-mask-stole-my-soul’ thing?” Pinkie asked, drawing a snort from Sunset. “You do have a lot of books about magic stuff, now that I think of it...” She curiously tilted her head. “Are you trying to break a curse?”

“No, no, I just— wait, you’re serious. You’re really asking?”

“Well, yeah. I’ve seen some pretty weird stuff out there.” Pinkie blanched at a particular memory involving a village of leather enthusiasts.

Sunset’s jaw dropped as she stared at Pinkie, who was trying to shake away the memory. “Come with me.” Sunset grabbed Pinkie by the hand and pulled her through the train station.

“Where are we going?” Pinkie stumbled, trying to keep up with Sunset’s urgent pace as they passed the derelict ticket booths.

They stopped in front of a large horse statue in the atrium of the train station. Sunlight filtered in through dirty reinforced glass overhead, casting shafts of light through the area. Sunset stopped at the base of the statue and placed a hand against the cool marble.

“Do you believe in magic?” Sunset asked while she gazed up at the stone horse.

“Sure, I guess.” Pinkie shrugged, failing to figure out where Sunset’s train of thought was taking her.

“What if I told you that there were other worlds?”

“Like Mars?”

“No, like yours— like this one, but not like this one, either. Like there are things that were the same in both worlds, but other stuff is completely different.” Sunset finally tore her eyes away from the statue to look back at Pinkie expectantly. “Really different.”

“I’d say that it was pretty neat! Do you think they have less sand?” Pinkie furrowed her brow in thought, trying, and failing, to imagine Canterlot’s ruins without sand coating it. “I’m sick of walking through sand.”

“I— You’re real, right?” Sunset reached out and brushed Pinkie’s cheek with her fingertips. “I haven’t gone crazy?”

“Nope! I’m super real— ow!” Pinkie pinched herself, to show she was real. “See?” Sunset raised an eyebrow, but couldn’t completely hide the smile at the corners of her mouth. “So, what does Mars have to do with anything, anyway?”

“Oh, right.” Sunset glanced back up at the statue and then back to Pinkie. “I’m, well… I’m not from here.”

An excited gasp escaped Pinkie and she immediately invaded Sunset’s personal space, pinching and prodding at the girl. “You’re an alien?! Are you here to fix Earth? Oh, are you looking for plucky humans to take on exciting adventures in your blue spaceship? Is this a mask under your other—” Pinkie managed to stop herself this time, clapping a hand over her own mouth and blushing furiously. “Sorry, Sunset.”

“It’s okay, just… just gimme a minute.” Sunset held a hand to her chest, trying to regain control of her breathing. Pinkie shifted her weight from one foot to the other while she waited. “I’m, um, not really used to people talking so much.”

“How come?”

“Well, I’ve been on my own since I came here. People started avoiding this place when they found out someone was waving a spear around.”

“Oh, yeah, I remember that! But why’d you come here?” Pinkie asked, gesturing towards the world outside in all its sandy glory. “It’s not a very good vacation spot.”

“It wasn’t my decision to end up here, trust me.” Sunset huffed. “I was trying to get away from stuff back home so I ran away through a portal in a mirror. It closed behind me, and I’ve been stuck here ever since. Not for a lack of trying, though.”

“How long have you been here?”

“Three years.” Sunset sighed, kicking a rock and skipping it out the door to the station.

“You’ve been all alone for three years?”

“Yeah,” came the glum reply, “not that I haven’t been trying to fix that.”

“It sucks being all alone out here.” Pinkie’s shoulders slumped and she pressed her back against the base of the statue, letting herself slide to the floor. She hugged her knees to her chest.

“You too, huh?” Sunset joined the nodding girl on the floor.

“Yeah.” Pinkie said into her knees. Gummy crawled out from around the statue, peering up at the girl.

“How long have you been out here?”

Pinkie shrugged. “I don’t know anymore. A long time, though.”

“You’ve been alone the whole time?”

“No, not the whole time. I visit towns to sell the stuff I find, and I’ve got Gummy to keep me company!”

“Gummy?” Sunset raised an eyebrow. “The fabled pet gator?”

“This is Gummy.” Pinkie smiled and gingerly scooped Gummy up, holding him out to Sunset on upturned palms. “Say ‘Hi’, Gummy!”

“Pinkie, there’s nothing—” Sunset’s face registered confusion, then softened immediately, “cuter than Gummy!” She kept a strained smile on her face for a moment longer before turning her attention to the darkening sky above. “It’s, um, getting late. Maybe you should stay here tonight?”

“Really?” Pinkie blinked in surprise. “Most people meet Gummy and can’t wait to get away from him. They never let me stay after they find out I have a baby alligator…”

“Well, it is dangerous out there, and it’s not like I don’t have space.” Sunset shrugged. “It’ll be like a sleepover.”

“What’s a sleepover?”