• 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.

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26 Delivery

February 5th, 994 Domina Solaria

Doug lounges next to Applejack and Rainbow Dash, their private hospital room beginning to get cramped with five members. Applejack and Rainbow both have foals nursing: Applejack’s foal is olive with a bright red mane while Rainbow’s foal is orange with a purple mane. The two mares look up with tired expressions as the door to their hospital room opens. Nurse Redheart wheels Rarity and a light gray unicorn foal with a purple and pink mane into the room. Rarity grunts as she slides off the gurney to the waiting empty bed, careful not to disrupt the foal as she nurses.

Nurse Redheart speaks up, saying, “Everything went smoothly, no complications. Rarity will be a little tired, as I’m sure you all know. Make sure to get your rest, keep up the fluid intake, and let me know if you need anything.” She smiles, and seeing that nothing is needed, makes her exit out the door.

“Ah'm sure glad everything went smoothly for each of us,” Applejack says, looking from Rarity to Doug, “Doug just came back to tell us that things had gone well. Have ya decided on a name yet?”

Rarity looks up, eyes beaming. “I would like to introduce you to Sweetie Belle. Isn’t she just adorable?” She looks back down at the filly, who is still happily nuzzling her teats. “Have either of you decided on names?”

Rainbow grins as she speaks up first, “Well, Applejack has decided to break with tradition, and chose to name her Apple Bloom,” She gives Applejack a wink, slightly sticking her tongue out at her lead.

Applejack returns a sour look, “Ain’t nothing wrong with tradition, RD. Actually, Rares, you gave me the inspiration all those months ago when you first met Doug, talking about love blooming and whatnot. Ah sure didn’t think all that time ago Ah'd be using it this soon.” She gently pets the mane in front of her, softly cooing at the sleepy foal.

“Oh, how delightful. And Rainbow, have you chosen?”

“Rainbow chose the name Scootaloo,” Doug says, as Rainbow has chosen the moment after Applejack’s interlude to feign napping. Rainbow opens one eye to wink at Doug, the smirk on her muzzle growing as she closes her eyes again. Doug groans, stretching his arms out, “I think everypony is pretty tired right now, I know I could go for a nap.”

Doug gets up, moving over to Rarity to give her a quick hug and tussle Sweetie’s mane. He stays there for a minute, looking over to see both Rainbow and Applejack asleep with their foals nestled next to them, dozing quietly. “How are you holding up?” Doug asks, starting to pet Rarity as well.

She leans into his hand, cooing softly. “As well as expected, I suppose. Glad it’s over with, though I will be even happier once we are all out of here and back to our homes. Have you given much thought to how you’ll juggle three foals? One of which could have unpredictable magic and random flights through windows, not to mention what happens with my and Rainbow’s foals!”

“Hey, I know I didn’t look that closely, but I’m pretty sure Apple Bloom isn’t an alicorn.”

Rarity gives a tired smile, “Well, just be prepared for all sorts of antics. Young foals will get into all kinds of situations, often making you wonder how it happened at all. And with three of them, each trying to imitate the other’s abilities? You certainly will see Apple Bloom try to perform magic like Sweetie Belle and trying to jump off roofs and fly like her sister Scootaloo.”

Doug chuckles at this, thinking of some of the stories his parents told him about his younger years. The door opens again, with Nurse Redheart pushing a machine he saw in the delivery room but has no idea to its purpose. Nurse Redheart looks around the room, seeing Rarity and Doug quietly talking and the other five sleeping ponies. She hooks the machine up, turning it on before moving closer to Doug.

Nurse Redheart picks up a small metal box attached to the machine, quietly asking, “Do you know what a thaumometer is?” Doug shakes his head, though Rarity gives a knowing nod, with a frown developing on her muzzle. Nurse Redheart continues, “Essentially, it measures the amount of magic that a being possesses, giving an indication as to how magical something is. Most ponies give off a similar amount, though the expression of the magic in them can take different forms. As you know, earth ponies are stronger, and Applejack is the quintessential earth pony, possessing a larger than average thaum quantity.”

Nurse Redheart moves over to Applejack, placing the thaumometer close to her head and recording the red reading it gives off. She then places the thaumometer close to Apple Bloom, giving a small shake when it comes up with a blue reading. Doug gives a questioning head shake, but she ignores it, moving over to Rainbow Dash.

Nurse Redheart continues, “Rainbow Dash also has a high thaum number, possibly one of the highest out there for a pegasus. It is what helps her to fly so fast, and if what happened before,” she gives a quick shake, “No matter. As you can see, Rainbow also has a red reading, almost going infra,” She moves the thaumometer to Scootaloo which again shows a blue reading.

“What does the blue reading mean?” Doug asks.

Nurse Redheart gives him a sad look before explaining, “Well, it is possible it is just a fluke. I don’t want to get your hopes up or, pardon the term, dash them preemptively. Doctor Horse will be back and explain everything, once I get the rest of the readings.” She takes a reading of Rarity, which comes up a light red, and then of Sweetie Belle, which comes as a dull blue, almost black. She also takes a reading of Doug, and frowns as the reading comes back completely black.

“That’s odd. If you were a pony, you would be dead. Or at the very least, extremely lethargic or comatose. Well, no matter. The doctor will be here, most likely in two or three hours, to explain the readings and the projected outcomes. If there is anything else I can help with?”

Doug shakes his head, looking to Rarity. Her eyes sink down, an unhappy sigh as she strokes Sweetie Belle's mane. His eyes wander to Rainbow and Applejack; the four of them all dozing quietly, smiles plastered on their muzzles. Doug gives Rarity a hug before dozing off himself, two frowns over a happy foal.

Several hours later a knock at the door rouses the four adults. Slowly waking up, Doug spots Doctor Horse, a unicorn pony wearing a rumpled white lab coat. Nurse Redheart follows behind him, pulling several charts into the room. Fluttershy has apparently entered the room at some point and has scrunched herself between two of the beds. Fluttershy brightens upon seeing the three foals waking up and moves to each in turn, nuzzling them as she whispers to each.

The doctor clears his throat as he looks around the room, seeing everypony slowly waking up from their slumber. The foals also stir as Fluttershy draws near, each looking around for their respective dam before starting nursing again. The nurse starts, “Before we begin, do any of you need to use the restroom or need something to eat or drink?”

Doug gets up from the bed, careful not to disturb Sweetie as she nurses. He fills a glass of water for himself before seeing each of his mares giving him a slightly pleading expression. He sighs, then fills four more glasses of water before passing them out, filling a carafe and bringing it back to Applejack, sitting between all his mares.

Doctor Horse begins in his contemptuous tone, “Afternoon. I have quite a bit of information about pony physiology, Doug, concerning your mares and foals. First, a little background information. Normally this topic is covered in school, but seeing as you don’t have your degree ‘here’, you might not know. Also,” he says, looking at Rainbow Dash, the mare impassively staring back, “Some of you could use a refresher.”

He motions to Nurse Redheart, who brings up the first of the charts. It shows a rainbow colored graph, with red on the far right and black on the far left. Nurse Redheart continues, “As I started explaining when I was measuring you, every life here has a certain amount of magic in it. Generally, the more magic, the more intelligence, awareness, or abilities those things possess. As you get further along,” she motions towards the black section of the chart, “Different qualities present themselves. At black, you have rocks and other inanimate objects. Doug, for whatever reason, most likely your not originating from here, you fall into this category. If I hadn’t just used the machine to test the others in the room I would have assumed it was broken.” Doctor Horse gives a small cough, popping a pill in his mouth.

Nurse Redheart continues, “Be that as it may, your lack of magic might have been a factor for your foals, but we’ll get to that later. Plants and lesser creatures, such as insects, will display in the blue range. As you saw, your three foals fall into this category, and we will get into the implications at the end. Most lesser animals, as well as fish, those that do not talk but still display some sentient behavior, fall closer to the green spectrum. Greater animals, specifically the intelligent and more aggressive ones found in the Everfree forest, might fall closer to yellow.”

She moves close to the red section, which has been elongated to show extra categories. “The least magical ponies will show somewhere between yellow and orange. Most ponies fall solidly into the orange category. As you get into the red area, where Rarity, Applejack, and Rainbow fall, abilities will present more strongly, as well as being more capable overall, less prone to falling sick or injured, etcetera."

“Where do most foals fall into this list?” Doug asks, looking at Nurse Redheart. She glances at Doctor Horse, who takes over.

“The thaum of a foal does not change during development. No, the reading stays fairly consistent, fluctuating a small amount after a cutie mark is discovered, but generally staying around the level that was there at birth.”

“So,“ Doug starts, looking at the foals. Applejack, Rarity and Rainbow have tensed up at the coming bad news, and the foals have noticed and start whimpering softly, “They have readings that shouldn’t exist. What does that mean?”

“Well, “Doctor Horse pauses, considering his words, “Understand that we have never seen this phenomenon before. With your permission, I would like to conduct a series of experiments and observations on their development, as well as author a research paper. We will also schedule some follow up appointments, to track the development of the foals, both physically and magically.”

Doctor Horse pauses again, looking back at the charts. “But, I’m getting ahead of myself. As I said, we don’t know exactly how this will manifest as they grow older. If you asked me before, I would have said a foal born with blue thaums would be brain dead. As you can, obviously, see, this isn’t the case. The foals are acting normally, no hint of retardation or other developmental issues. The issue, I believe, will be in terms of magic. Doug, you have said that your race is not a magic using one. I think that the foals have inherited their body type from their dams, but their magic seems to be a mix between you and each of your mares. Which, unfortunately, involved averaging an admittedly high number with a zero.”

“Well, what does this mean for them? How do you see that developing later in life?” Doug motions to the three foals, who have quieted down and gone back to nuzzling their dams.

“This is all conjecture and speculation; there is the possibility that they will develop normally, and have the full range of magical abilities that other foals their age possess. However, I fear that instead their magical growth will be forever stunted. Specifically, Apple Bloom will never be able to tend to crops as well as her dam, and may not be as strong. Sweetie Belle will most likely be able to develop telekinesis, but will never reach the multitasking and fine control her dam has." Doctor Horse pauses, waving circles with his hoof in the air, "Depending on her cutie mark, and in fact if she ever gets a cutie mark-”

Four gasps come from each mare, dismayed looks on each.

“No cutie mark?” Rainbow says in a quiet but fast voice, “That’s… that’s... What would happen to them? How would they know what they are good at, their calling in life, what will make them happy?”

Doctor Horse replies, “Unfortunately we don’t know, and in fact will never know until it happens. Rainbow, I have the worst news for you." He pauses as Rainbow inches closer, her eyes boring into him; he sighs, a faint quiver in his voice as he quietly says, "Scootaloo’s wings are undersized to begin with, and this combined with her low magic means that she may never fly.”

Rainbow bursts into tears, her forelegs covering her eyes as her body shakes. Scootaloo startles, crying out as she senses her dam's distress, her wide eyes peering upwards. Doug slides over to Rainbow, gripping her around the barrel and squeezing, holding her as tightly as he can. Rainbow turns her head to him, sobbing into his chest as tears form in Doug’s eyes.

Applejack and Rarity hop off of their beds, leaving Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle and laying comforting hooves onto Rainbow and Doug. Their own bodies quiver with restrained tears, gradually letting them out as they all settle into each other. Doctor Horse and Nurse Redheart approach the herd; Nurse Redheart puts a consoling hoof on Rainbow while Doctor Horse tentatively moves to Doug and awkwardly taps his back.

A few minutes pass as the pile of mares bolster each other, eventually pulling apart. The foals either recovered first or never noticed things were wrong, as they have started to stare at the new arrivals. Nurse Redheart glances over, observing the curious behavior, as the foals struggle to move to the edges of the beds.

Doctor Horse notices as well, commenting, “Well, isn’t this fascinating. Normally foals are only interested in sleeping and their bellies. And, by extension, their dams. Normally this inquisitiveness wouldn’t start until they are a week old.”

Nurse Redheart moves to Rainbow Dash, nuzzling her while watching the foals. “Just think of all the things you’ll be able to do together. While they might not be exactly like you, each will have their own special qualities you can find together.”

Rainbow smiles, wiping the tears from her eyes with a wing. She watches intently as the three foals move to the sides of their beds. She has to block Scootaloo from leaping off the bed, trying to contain the evasive foal with her hooves. Doug gets up but, instead of stopping the foal, pushes the three beds together. Sweetie Belle and Apple Bloom, after reassurance from their dams, both move over to Scootaloo’s bed where they nuzzle each other before collapsing and falling asleep.