• Published 5th May 2018
  • 9,112 Views, 175 Comments

Alternate Beginnings: Year One - Doug Graves

Seven years before the events of MLP:FiM, a human appears in Equestria, meeting Applejack and other ponies of Ponyville.

  • ...

24 Games

December 10th, 993

It is the end of the day. Her last day of weather work this year. Rainbow smiles as she looks over the progress report Open Skies has given her. It looks like winter this year will be a particularly cold one, which means less snow and more ice. Doug has tried modifying his schedule as he always does, but she is worried for his first winter. She glances at the weather for the upcoming weeks; it looks like he made it easier to follow, but the cold will be more noticeable in the town. Well, at least she won’t have to deal with the complaints this year.

Rainbow had gotten the okay from Cloudsdale to have two of her assistant managers take over instead of having Fluffy Clouds return. It was conditional on Clouds signing off, but while the stallion had a little reluctance initially he had been pleased at their performance. So, he will be heading back on the evening train while the two Ponyville natives took over.

Open Skies and Clear Skies stand at attention, glad their boss is happy. Rainbow has a tendency to push others as hard as she pushes herself. With her pregnancy progressing they had tried to get her to pull back but the mare would have none of it. She often loosed the frustration she felt about herself out on the other mares around her, but they know she doesn’t really mean it. However, with her pregnancy reaching its tenth month Rainbow is finally starting to show the exhaustion they all feel.

Rainbow smiles as she waves goodbye before beginning the long flight home. She takes it slower than normal but keeps her wings moving, trying to fight the cold off. Hopefully the snow they set up for tonight holds off just a little longer.

Rainbow tucks her wings as she lands at her cloud house. She has it anchored just outside of Sweet Apple Acres and hopefully it won’t drift too much closer in the coming months. She insisted to Applejack that the rainbow falls are high enough to not impact anything on the ground, but Applejack had dug in her stubborn hooves. Well, at least there isn’t much inside that she needs to grab, just a bit of her winter garb. And Fluttershy can fly up there if she really needs something, but she isn’t looking forward to convincing the mare it is necessary. Rainbow finishes packing her saddlebags before looking outside. She sighs; the snow has started early. Again. Well, Doug doesn’t have much practice scheduling snow, and it shows.

Rainbow pulls a scarf out before strapping her bags to her sides. She takes off and begins her slow glide down. Out of the corner of her eye she notices Clear Skies is also making a beeline for the front door at Sweet Apple Acres. She frowns, adjusting her flight path to intercept and shouting, “Hey Skies, what’s up?”

Clear Skies gives a wave, slowing her speed as Rainbow pulls up next to her. They continue gliding down as she pulls a folder out, “Hey Rainbow! Doug had asked us to time when the snow started, temperatures, that kind of thing. What’s he going to do with all this?”

Rainbow shrugs, taking the folder and cramming it into one of the bags. “Oh, he thinks there might be some sort of pattern or formula or something as to why the snow releases early. He likes these things being really precise, you know?”

Clear Skies laughs, “Oh, and I thought it was just you. Well, take care Rainbow! Thunderlane’s waiting on me for our next date!”

Rainbow winks, “Good hunting!” Clear Skies turns and flies back towards Ponyville while Rainbow glides the rest of the way to Apple Acres. She opens the door to more commotion than normally is present in the farmhouse. She rounds the corner to the living room and sees Doug and Pinkie Pie sitting on the floor surrounded by colored paper. Sitting on one couch is Applejack and she appears to be in a spirited argument with Rarity.

Doug says in a somewhat exasperated voice, “Ladies, what have I told you about arguing while I was around?”

Applejack sighs, “Just to keep it superficial things like Rarity’s insistence on perfection on first drafts that we are going to redo anyway.”

Rarity responds, “Or how Applejack would be fine if these games showed as little style as her preferred attire!”

Applejack gasps, “You did not just insult my hat! Ah'll have you know, that this hat is a traditional earth pony style that has been passed down for generations!”

Doug sighs again, looking to Rainbow who is still standing in the doorway. “Rainbow! Glad to see you; how was your last day?”

Rainbow walks into the room, dropping the saddlebags by the wall. “It went well; both Skies were able to keep up and handled the schedule. Speaking of, the snow started a little early again. Clear Skies dropped off a timetable or something, it’s in the bag. So, what’s all this?” Rainbow motions to the scraps of paper scattered around.

Pinkie Pie raises a hoof in the air, waving it excitedly. “Oh! Ohh! Pick me! I can explain! Please, I can explain!”

Doug sighs at the exuberant mare and nods. Pinkie leaps into the air, pronking around while pointing her hooves at the various piles. “So Doug was thinking about what kind of games the foals would play and that got me thinking about what kind of games that we had that the foals would enjoy and so I asked Doug what kind of games he enjoyed as a foal and he responded that he was never a foal but as a child that there were a couple of games he enjoyed and so we collaborated and decided to make a couple of games that he enjoyed both as a child and then later when he was older and so I got Rarity to come over as well because she likes making things and thought that it would be a fun exercise and then she started mentioning what kind of games that she enjoyed as a foal and so we all got together to make games that we enjoyed as a foal or as a child and then Applejack came in-”

Rainbow finally manages to shush Pinkie Pie by putting her hoof in her mouth, “Okay, Pinkie, I get it, thanks.”

Pinkie Pie has continued talking while Rainbow’s hoof is in her mouth. Rainbow pulls her hoof away experimentally and Pinkie continues, “Galaxy and he’s nearly done so we can all play it together!”

Rainbow looks at Pinkie, “What was that?”

Pinkie takes a deep breath, “So Doug was thinking about what kind of games-”

Rainbow sticks her hoof in Pinkie’s mouth again, shaking her head. She starts counting the seconds, mouthing along to what Pinkie had been saying before. Both Doug and Applejack cover their faces to keep from laughing while Rarity looks on with a grin. Rainbow releases her hoof and Pinkie continues, “Doug was working on Roll for the Galaxy and he’s nearly done so we can all play it together!”

Doug manages to get himself under control and says, “Yup. The rules are pretty simple. Rarity, if you want to make a bunch of dice, they need to be like this.” He sketches out the designs that go on the different faces of the dice while continuing to write on the different cards.

Once he is done constructing the game and explaining the rules the ponies begin their first round. Doug doesn’t play, instead helping each of them with the various strategies they can take. Applejack and Rarity are set on making each other’s lives miserable and Doug is having a hard time corralling them. While at first Rainbow thinks this is a silly game for eggheads she starts to get into it when she manages to win the first game.

The next several rounds get more and more intense as the players get more and more into the game. Applejack and Rarity even manage to set aside their feud in order to keep Doug from winning the last game. They all acknowledge their growing hunger and take a break for dinner. Doug prepares a feast of the remaining fresh fruits they have; after this it will be lots of dry meal, vegetables, and preserves.

The snow starts falling in earnest, the roads outside soon covered with the rapidly accumulating snow. After dinner, Pinkie Pie goes to the guest room to sleep while Rainbow and Applejack, both yawning to themselves, head to the master bedroom, Granny Smith and Big Mac retiring to their own rooms.

Rarity, meanwhile, snuggles next to Doug on one of the couches. He is wearing one of the pajama sets she made; it is the first time she has seen him wear it, and she slowly moves her hooves over his body. The low grunts and groans of pleasure are more than enough to tell her that Doug is appreciating the massage as she checks the robe for tight spots or chafing.

It would be an understatement to say Rarity was surprised when Doug had shown up, a week before the Running of the Leaves, and asked Rarity to create for him a winter ensemble. Well, that wasn’t the surprise. The surprise was that the human had a full sketched outfit that, as far as she could tell, would cover the entirety of his body with very little exposed or extra. His explanation, that humans normally wore clothing, had hit her like a train. Here was a creature who, back in his world, would regularly wear clothes, every day, even to bed, and the most he had asked her for before this was a pair of work gloves and boots!

Well, she says to herself as Doug rolls over and she begins massaging his back, she supposes he is just trying to fit in, wearing just as much as the ponies around him. As much as she likes designing clothing it isn’t very often that she gets a chance to wear much herself. Even Applejack, for as much she likes to needle the mare, wears more clothing than she does, donning her trademark hat all the time. She had tried a few of the concepts, like his jacket that had a zipper, on other articles she made. Most ponies prefer buttons to lessen the chance of snagged fur, but when you wear multiple layers or take care to build in a little extra fabric a zipper is certainly easier to manipulate than the button snaps.

Rarity finishes Doug’s back and he sighs contentedly. He gets up and maneuvers around to start massaging her back and sides. She sighs to herself as Doug begins the conversation she knew was coming.

“So, Rarity, you and Applejack were certainly going at it tonight. Something bothering you?”

“What, besides the fact that the mare, much as I love her, has absolutely no fashion sense? She would go to Canterlot and visit Princess Celestia in her work duds if she wore any.” Doug sighs as he continues rubbing, feeling the tension slowly start to leave Rarity’s body. “Or is it the foals you have growing in each of us? My dam told me stories of what she was like with me, and I assure you, this is me being nice.”

Doug begins to dig a little deeper, pushing harder on his massage. Rarity closes her eyes, horn briefly lighting up as she pulls him closer. “I hope you didn’t forget whose turn it is tonight, love.” She opens her eyes, looking back at Doug with a sultry smile.

“Are you tired already? I was hoping to stay up a little later, get your advice on something.”

“Of course, darling, you have only to ask. What is it?”

Doug stands up, moving to gather a few pieces of papers from his office before returning to Rarity. He spreads the sheets of paper out in front of her while setting a few books off to the side.

Rarity looks at the stack of papers that Doug has pulled out. She eyes him suspiciously, “Those aren’t weather related. In fact, I think I recognize some of them. You aren’t trying to trick us into anything tomorrow, are you?”

Doug laughs, “No, it wasn’t going to be a trick. It’s just another game from my world, similar to Ogres and Oubliettes.”

Rarity rolls her eyes, “Of course you would play that. I assume that in the game you role play as various adventurers and solve friendship crises?”

Doug’s lips purse as he considers his answer. “Well, you know my world is, how shall I say, considerably more violent than your world?”

Rarity nods, “Yes, your, as you put it, ‘gallows humor’ is evidence enough of that.”

“So, I was hoping you could help me with a bit of the adventure, then. I don’t want to put you all up against anything that would be too weird or horrifying, but I also don’t want to give away too much before you start the game.”

“Well, dear, as long as things don’t get too violent it shouldn’t matter too much. Just make sure to have a peaceful resolution planned, if not several. Other than that, well, let your imagination take you!”

“Aww, but I love using your inspiration, you are always so insightful.” Doug ruffles Rarity’s mane and she gasps. She leaps off the couch and flicks her mane to the side, glaring at Doug.

“If you plan on messing my coiffure, then you better plan on messing it up all the way and helping me redo it in the morning. Otherwise, I insist you keep your hands to yourself, you ruffian!”

“So, normal rules then?”

Rarity nods, a smirk coming across her face. “Normal rules.”