• Published 22nd Mar 2018
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Pound and Pumpkin Tales 2 - Never2muchpinkie

The continuing adventures of the now seven years old Pound and Pumpkin

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3-8: The rematch

The following day Pound was anxious as he walked into school. He wondered whether Drill’s talk with Flurry had done any good at all, or if he was only going to become more stubborn.

He knew he couldn’t have a proper talk with Drill Bit during class time, but Drill Bit seemed normal enough. They went through their usual warmup routine before they began practice.

When they went outside for lunch Drill Bit approached him first. “Hey there, Pound,” Drill started in a pleasant tone.

Pound gave him a quick wave. “Hey.” Then he waited.

“I believe you told me that the distance between here and the Crystal Empire means nothing, right?” Pound nodded. “Well, you tell that Flurry Heart that I want another go at her.”

“Mmm.” Pound wasn’t so sure that was a good idea. “Already? What’s racing again going to accomplish? You already said she wasn’t worth the trouble.”

“Hmph. I’m a competitive colt. Racing isn’t all I succeed at. It’s not in my nature to remain a loser.”

Pound stared into his eyes, trying to understand what he was getting at. “Okay, so then what do you want to challenge her to?”

“It’ll be a clash of ideals. She presented herself as a powerful filly. It threw me off a bit yesterday, but now I’m prepared. I’ll see whether she really means what she said. I’ll test her worth for myself.”

Pound just stared again. “Look, I… I don’t think this is a good idea. You played it off, but I know yesterday wasn’t pleasant for you.”

Drill nodded. “Sure it wasn't. I don’t need you to tell me the obvious. Haven’t had a challenge like that in a long time. But, as I just told you, it’s not in my nature to lose. I understand my opponent better, so there’s no way I’ll let her take the win again.”

“What are you trying to accomplish with this? What if you don’t ‘win’ this time, either?”

Drill shrugged. “Well, that’s not something you have to worry about, is it? This isn’t between the two of us, after all. This is between me and her.”

“And I care about both of you!”

Drill smirked, patting his chin. “That’s cute, but I’m not going to back down from this. Besides…” He got right in Pound’s face. “What you’re really saying is that you don’t think I can handle it. I don’t want your pity.”

“That’s not what I-”

“Be quiet!” Drill said sharply, frowning now. “Your alicorn friend didn’t care one bit about the race. It was obvious it was just a deception to get us to fight with our minds instead. And because I lost that contest now you’re worried about me.”

“And what if I am? Maybe you don’t consider me a friend, and that’s fine, but I care about your well-being. I don’t want to see you hurt again.”

Drill smirked again, rolling his eyes as he released Pound and walked a few steps away from him. “It seems like you’re a big fake, Pound.”

Pound eyed him curiously. “What do you mean by that?”

Drill shrugged. “I thought you were supposed to believe in your friends and encourage them. And yet here you are, being discouraging and telling me you don’t believe I have what it takes. Is that the form your ‘care for me’ takes?”

Pound felt a weight in his stomach. “T-that’s…” He let out a little moan. “That’s not what I was trying-”

“WELL!” he said, speaking over him. “If you actually DO believe in me then just do what I tell you and get Flurry over here. And make sure she brings that friend of hers, okay?” With that he took off, going to his friends.

Pound just stood there for a few moments before his legs got weak and he sank to the ground. What was he supposed to do? Not for the first time he felt conflicted about the nature of right and wrong.

Yesterday Drill had fallen short against Flurry, requiring him to encourage the colt to give him his confidence back. But today, when he had the chance to encourage him, he had hesitated. It wasn’t his intention to make Drill feel bad, or to give the impression he didn’t think Drill could handle it. In trying to spare Drills feelings he had inadvertently driven the colt away.

Guilt began blossoming in his stomach. He was supposed to be the one that Drill could turn to, but he had let the colt down. Even though Drill didn’t sound angry or upset he didn’t stay to train him during their lunch hour as usual.

He thought it over during the rest of recess, but he kept coming to the same conclusion, and that was he had to consent to Drill’s request. He just feared for what Drill would do. If Drill ‘won’ their contest it meant that Flurry was going to get upset. And if Flurry ‘won’ then Drill would feel like a loser. Either way it went someone was going to be miserable.

And yet he knew he had to let it happen. He didn’t like it, but he knew he couldn’t help Drill in the same way that Flurry could. She understood him and his situation more.

So, with a touch of reluctance, he wrote to Flurry and told her Drill wanted to talk with her again. He could only hope that things would turn out better this time.

He didn’t wind up hearing from her until school was almost over. She told him she’d be glad to come again.

After school was over Pound saw Pinkie was there to pick them up, as well as Flurry, Crystal, Twilight, and Cadance.

“Hey, Pound!” Flurry said brightly as she hugged him.

“Hi, Flurry,” he said glumly.

“Aw, c’mon! Cheer up! Everything is going to be fine.”

“I sure hope so.” He looked up at Cadance. “How are you, princess?”

“I’m doing great,” she responded. “Seeing my little girl so happy recently fills my heart with joy. Thank you again for all you’ve done for her.”

That got a small smile out of him. “You’re welcome.”

Drill Bit walked over. “What’s up, Flurry?” he said genially. “Hope it doesn’t bother you getting dragged out here again?”

“Not at all,” she responded, though she found his pleasant attitude odd. She figured there would be a barely hidden rage in his forced politeness, but he looked pretty calm. She didn’t think he was faking. Still, she sensed something was off. It was like he was too calm. Given his competitive nature she thought he would be more, well, competitive.

Then again, from what Pound had said he wanted to challenge her personally, making it a contest of egos or self-control. In that regard he couldn’t let his emotions get to him or he’d already be at a disadvantage.

“Well, it’s a nice day out. It would be a shame to spend it cooped up indoors. Why don’t we go to the park again?”

“That’s fine with me.”

Twilight looked around. “What about your parents?”

Drill’s relaxed attitude faded for a moment, but he quickly brought it back. “Well, me and my parents didn’t exactly see eye to eye yesterday. They’re a bit upset.”

Twilight frowned. “So they were just going to leave you to walk home by yourself?”

“Well, Masky used to walk home by himself all the time,” said Pumpkin.

Twilight glanced over at her. “Be that as it may, there’s a difference between not picking up your child because you’re working and ignoring them because you’re mad at them.”

As if on cue, a pony suddenly came out of the sky, panting. It was Noble. “H-hey! Sorry I’m late. Lost track of time.”

Drill chuckled. “Well, there you go. I guess you got upset for nothing.”

Twilight let out a breath. “I guess I did.”

Turning to his brother he said, “You can go home, Noble. I have business to attend to.”

“Like what?”

“Would you be… Drill Bit’s brother?” asked Twilight.

Noble turned to her. “Yes, I am. And who-” He paused as he saw the two alicorns in front of him. “Princess Twilight and Princess Cadance.” He bowed to them. “It’s an honor to meet you for the first time.”

“Same here,” said Twilight. Turning to Cadance she said, “Noble here is a part of the Royal Guard in Canterlot, and he’s risen up to be second in command of the whole thing.”

“That’s impressive,” said Cadance as Noble stood up.

“Well, it’s my ambition to take the top spot. Frankly I felt I’ve deserved it for a while, but because of a situation a few months back I finally found out what it was I was lacking.”

With a serene grin she said, “I suppose now that I’ve stolen my husband from the Canterlot Royal Guard you actually have a chance.”

“I sure hope so.” A flash of recognition went through him, as he remembered Drill telling him how Flurry and Cadance were related to Twilight and how Pound knew her. He glanced down, seeing a filly and yet another alicorn, and he knew instantly that she had to be the Flurry Heart that Drill told him about.

“Pleasure to meet you, Flurry Heart.” He inclined his head toward her.

“Thank you,” she replied. “I have a lot of respect for the Royal Guard. They put their lives on the line to keep the princesses safe. And, of course, my daddy is the head of the guard in the Crystal Empire.” Her brow furrowed. “But if you’re such a hotshot in the Royal Guard what are you doing here in Ponyville?”

“Couldn’t be helped. During a training exercise I got into a bad accident and nearly died, so I’ve been recovering at home.”

“Oh!” She slapped a hoof over her mouth. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Well, I’m not… much.”

She looked at him oddly. “Why would you say that?”

“Well, the pain was no fun, obviously, but it was a learning experience. It woke me up and taught me a lesson I desperately needed to be taught about what being a team leader really means. And it was that lack of knowledge that stopped Princess Celestia from thinking of letting me be the captain of the guard.

“So, all things considered, I think things worked out pretty well.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re able to see the bright side of things, Noble,” said Twilight. “There’s always a meaningful lesson to be learned in anything if you think about it.”

“Okay, okay!” said Drill Bit, a little annoyed. “Can we please just get down to business? I’m tired of waiting.”

Noble looked over at him, getting serious. “And just what are your intentions here, Bro? You told me about your confrontation yesterday, and now you want to go at it again? For what purpose?”

Drill shook his head. “It’s nothing nefarious. Me and Flurry just have some unfinished business, that’s all. I just want to match myself against her and see where I stand.

“I mean, she trounced me yesterday. The only reason I bounced back was because of Pound yelling his support.” He lifted a hoof, shaking it. “I can’t just let that go. So after thinking on it yesterday I want to see something.”

“See what?”

“To see if Flurry can actually take the heat. She claims to have gained self-confidence in who she is and she wouldn’t be ashamed of the things she can’t help, but is that really true? If she really thinks that she’s that powerful inside then I’m going to put her to the test.”

Flurry looked at him thoughtfully. Was that what he really wanted? She didn’t know what angle he would take. She had lost her shame over her wings through repeated exposure and Crystal’s support. Besides that she was a perfectly normal pony appearance-wise, so she didn’t think he’d make any headway there. He also didn’t know about her personal life besides that she was friends with the twins and Crystal, so what exactly was he going to test her on? Was his plan to simply insult her in every way he could think of repeatedly, hoping to wear her down?

She didn’t mind going through with his little test, but she couldn’t help but wonder what he would get out of it. Was it really nothing more than pettiness that made him want to see her falter emotionally? She couldn’t tell.

Noble was thinking along the same lines. He didn’t think it was a wise idea, but if Flurry and the other two princesses had no objections then he wasn’t really in a place to argue.

Pinkie said, “Well, there’s still work to do at the shop, so if you’re going to look after the twins for me then I’m gonna go back to work.” With some goodbyes Pinkie left.

As they began their walk towards the park Pumpkin asked Cadance, “Are you coming with us, Cadance?”

The mare nodded. “I don’t get to see my sister-in-law too often, so I figured I’d hang around for a little while and see how this all goes. After all, my daughter filled me in on what’s been happening. Seems that Drill kid is in need of some guidance.”

Pumpkin nodded.

Noble remained behind Cadance and Twilight as they walked. He wasn’t in uniform, or under the employ of either of them, but he was still a member of the Royal Guard. Hence, he considered it his duty to protect them and keep an eye out for potential threats.

When they arrived at the park they got into much the same position as before, the adults giving the children space so Flurry and Drill could work things out. Twilight and Cadance sat down on a bench, Noble standing behind it and remaining standing.

Drill and Flurry were both looking each other in the eye, neither of them speaking.

Pound looked between the two of them, wondering how things were going to go. He found it a little odd how Drill had admitted so readily to Flurry coming out on top yesterday. Given his proud nature he didn’t think Drill would be able to accept losing.

Pumpkin tapped her hoof, slowly getting impatient.

Flurry finally spoke. “Well? You wanted me, so here I am. So why all the silence?”

Drill grinned. “A winning strategy takes time.”

“So what is this great strategy of yours? You know almost nothing about me, so how are you planning to get your ‘victory?’ Hmm?”

“Why, you’re going to help me, of course.”

Flurry’s eyebrow rose. “So… you want me to help you to hurt me?”

Drill shook his head. “Don’t be ridiculous. That would just be silly. I want to learn.”

“Learn what?”

Drill turned away. “I’ll acknowledge it. You thrashed me yesterday. I didn’t want to admit it, but I was intimidated by you and your inner strength. Having reigned supreme over the competitive circuit, and rarely losing at anything, it was a rare event to meet someone like you.

“I was furious when I went home yesterday. I had to rely on outside help to win the race, and I wasn’t satisfied with the end result. There was no feeling of victory. Your indifference to losing just made me angrier. So, all things considered, it was a total defeat on my part. I’ve never been destroyed so thoroughly, and boy was that a sting to my pride.”

He looked up towards the sky. “And it got me to thinking… what is it that she has that I don’t?” He spun around back towards her. “And the answer is that I just don’t know enough. I only got a few small details of your transformation. So that’s what I want to know. Where does this strength of yours come from?

“You may have beaten me yesterday, but that might just be because I’ve gotten too used to victory and have forgotten what it’s like to be actually challenged. I adapt quickly, though, so I’m ready for you. That being the case, I want to see which of us is actually right. Whether you’re the stronger one or me.

“So what do you say, Flurry? Are you down for another round, or are your morals so weak they won’t stand up to a little examination?”

Flurry stared at him seriously. It seemed that there was something more than just pettiness driving him. From what he was saying it looked like he wanted to test her resolve.

After a minute she said, “Very well.” She gave him a rundown of what her life had been like before she met the twins. How she was afraid to talk to her parents about her feelings and feeling crushed under incredible pressure and expectations, and putting all her time and effort into studying because she didn’t know what else to do.

The whole time Drill was sitting down, his eyes closed and listening hard.

When she got to the twins party she talked about the support they all gave her, but left out Mayhem’s reality-breaking antics, figuring it would be too distracting a topic.

“When Aunt Twilight came to take me home I felt better than I had in months. I knew now that it was okay for me to be a kid, and I knew I had friends who loved me for who I was.

“Getting Crystal on my side, though, was really difficult. I tried hard, but by myself I just couldn’t break down the wall she had put up between us. And so I brought her with me to visit Pound and Pumpkin, hoping that it would let her see me as the ordinary pony I was.

“It worked, just not in the way I intended. Crystal felt really jealous of the twins because of how casual we were with one another. She wanted that sort of friendship between us, but it wasn’t until she finally opened up with her real feelings of being upset with me and seeing I could accept that that we began to have the sort of friendship she wanted.”

She finished up with Crystal’s efforts to help her overcome her feelings toward her wings and how she didn’t want to let those feelings interfere with her protecting her friends.

“Thinking of how much all my friends meant to me I knew I couldn’t let those feelings stay. I wouldn’t be able to bear it if one of my friends was hurt because I was too shy about my wings. I might need to fly to rescue them, and if being mocked for them led me to not being my best I wouldn’t be able to forgive himself.

“At first I went along with Crystal because she basically forced it on me. I hated every moment of it, always feeling like I was being made fun of. Even though ponies didn’t say it out loud I was sure they were disgusted in their minds. Slowly, I got used to it until it meant nothing to me. It became a challenge that I embraced, because it was like asking myself how much was I willing to endure for my friends. The answer, of course, was anything.”

Drill Bit finally opened his eyes. “So you think your life has become better because of your friends?”

Flurry nodded. “Yes. My friends have helped make me stronger.

“So I told you my story. I explained how I’ve changed from the weakling I used to be. Now what?”

Drill Bit began walking around. “When it comes to competition there are two things you can do to give yourself an edge. You can find your strengths and use them to your best advantage, or you can find your opponents weakness and use it against them to diminish their effectiveness.

Flurry kept an eye on him. “Makes sense, but where are you going with it? I’ve lost the weakness I had.”

“Not quite.” He stopped in front of Crystal. “And what do you have to say about all this? What does Flurry mean to you? Do you actually care about her as much as she thinks you do, or have you helped her out just to enhance your own standing?”

Crystal’s eyes narrowed slightly. “Flurry told you about the colt that only tried to befriend her because his father wanted special treatment. I’m not like that. I hang out with Flurry because I like her and I want to see her succeed. I don’t have any other reason.

“If your plan is to try and put a wedge in our friendship to weaken Flurry then forget it.”

“Oh, I have no intention of doing that. If the two of you start fighting it will interfere with my competition with Flurry. It won’t get me what I want.”

He moved so he was standing next to her, putting a hoof over her neck. “Besides, this is a contest between our beliefs. I was brought up to believe that a pony should be strong and stand on their own four hooves without relying on others. And Flurry over there appears to be of the opposite viewpoint, that she needs friends to be at her strongest.”

“So what’s your point?” asked Flurry. “Where is this all headed?”

“Well, the thing is… I’ve figured you out. I know exactly where to strike to bring you down in this fight.”

“Okay. I guess in response I’ll say that I’ve overcome a lot of things to become who I am right now. I don’t think there’s anything you can do or say to me that would break me.”

Drill’s heart began beating faster. “Oh, I agree.”

Flurry looked at him in confusion. “Okay… so then-”

She gasped as Drill Bit suddenly whacked Crystal hard in the back of the head.

Crystal let out a cry of pain as she held her head, quietly crying.

Pound stomped a hoof. “What did you do that for?”

Flurry’s horn was sparking, and he could practically feel the rage pouring off of her in great waves. “How dare you,” she said darkly. “HOW… DARE… YOU!”

Pumpkin was feeling angry too, but it faded when she looked at the crazed look on Flurry’s face. She had too many memories of Pound attacking others in protection of her, and she couldn’t ever forget the time she had sent Pound to the hospital when she had lost control of her magic in anger.

Drill Bit got a twisted smile on his face, a bead of sweat coming down his cheek as he took in Flurry’s expression. She was mad, alright. ‘Now the real contest begins,’ he thought.

Author's Note:

Oh, Drill Bit. Why did you poke the beehive? :facehoof:

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