• Published 5th May 2018
  • 9,092 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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27 Epilogue - Six Years Later

June 30th, 1000 Domina Solaria

Applejack, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and Pinkie Pie are sitting around the kitchen table at Sweet Apple Acres. Doug is cooking breakfast, instructing Apple Bloom while Scootaloo and Sweetie Belle watch over the younger foals as they scamper around. The counter is piled high with plates of pancakes as well as dishes of oatmeal and slices of buttered bread. A tray is piled with glasses and several containers of juice sit nearby.

Doug looks over his family, his herd. His oldest, Apple Bloom, is doing a fine job with cooking breakfast; she has picked the skill up quickly and is good at taking charge. She helps him out with cooking now and then, and occasionally he lets her plan and run the whole kitchen. She enjoys bossing him around when he does, much to everypony’s chagrin. She has more trouble in the fields, but Applejack hopes things will improve as she gets older and works with her every day.

Scootaloo, much like her dam, loves to be on the move and likes playing with the other foals, chasing them around. Rainbow had gotten her a scooter as an alternative to flying and the filly has taken to it like a fish to water. Doug has to constantly remind her to not use it indoors, but she finds it easier to ride than to carry. Her wings, sadly, are much as the doctor had feared. Rainbow trains with her as much as her schedule allows but they have seen little progress. Scootaloo makes up for it with her enthusiasm for her scooter and loves challenging anypony to a race.

Sweetie Belle has much less tolerance for the messes the younger foals commonly make but still puts up a good face, not wanting to be outdone by her sisters. She also diligently keeps at her magic lessons. While she isn’t the only unicorn in Equestria to take extra lessons she is one of the few that needs them in order to keep up with her classmates. Her mixed heritage also makes her magic unpredictable, and she has to keep her magic use to a bare minimum when they are cooking, sometimes even foregoing her telekinesis. She enjoys working with her dam at the Carousel Boutique and they would sing together when the work gets slow. They sometimes form a quartet with Big Mac singing base, Doug tenor and Rarity alto.

Pinkie Pie helped him take care of the foals after the trio was born and had loved it. It wasn’t much of a surprise when Pinkie Pie joined the herd shortly thereafter, wanting a foal of her own. But, since she had just missed her estrus window, they had to wait until the next year. Applejack saw how his oldest three developed much like any other foals; it made her comfortable with having another. At the time, Rainbow and Rarity worried constantly about their two and the magic difficulties they had and would have. Neither wanted to have another until the foals were more comfortable and they had a better idea of what to expect.

Applebaum and Lemon try hard to keep up with their older sisters, but the age gap is just enough to make following them around a little difficult, especially with the trio starting school. The two fillies often get into trouble, things a bit old for them, and their older siblings do nothing but help encourage this. They, like all of his foals, are insatiably curious, always looking to try new things. Doug recreated some of the board and card games he remembered, and while the trio like games for their age, the two can’t stand them. They want to play games for ‘big fillies’ and often rub it in the muzzles of their older sisters that they can handle games their elders can’t.

Fluttershy wanted a foal of her own; she had decided to wait both to see how Scootaloo developed and to give Doug and Pinkie Pie, the main caretakers, a break in how many newborns they dealt with at a time. Scootaloo’s difficulties were limited to flight and weather magic but otherwise the filly had been doing very well. The next year Hedge was born; while she has the same difficulties as her pegasus sister she compensates in a much different way. She is easily the most patient of the foals yet, while slightly more outgoing than her dam, still prefers to let others come to her.

Hedge takes after her dam in other ways, always looking out for those around her. She, as early as she could manage, had taken over caring for the chickens, getting up with the older mares early in the morning to do her chores of gathering the eggs and making sure the feed is in place. She is also the first to notice if a chicken ever goes missing, though a couple times Doug had to explain what happened as chickens, really all creatures, got older.

Applejack and Pinkie Pie both wanted another, so next year Pomarbo and Meringue were born. Meringue often tries to follow in her sister’s hoofsteps but can’t handle the games, at least not yet. Instead, she tries her best to organize all the pieces by color or shape, to her older siblings’ chagrin. They do their best to be patient with her but, like many foals, their patience wears thin very quickly. Pinkie Pie had gotten her started on decorating things, and it isn’t uncommon to pull a board game out and find that the board and all the pieces have been Meringue’d.

Pomarbo, being the only colt, tries to join in with his sisters but often has trouble enjoying the rough and tumble atmosphere. Pomarbo prefers staying with Doug when he is working on the weather, just watching as his sire draws up charts and schedules. He is still too young to assist, but Doug knows he will have a little apprentice soon enough.

The mares thought that eight foals was a good number for the six of them, though Rarity and Fluttershy are on the fence as to having a second. Applejack is somewhat worried that only Applebloom seems to really enjoy farming, and is debating a fourth. There has been a lot of speculation as to when Big Mac will start up a herd of his own, but the stallion seems perfectly happy where he is. Instead, the talk turns to if they will add another mare to Applejack’s herd. Rainbow thinks they are fine, though the betting pool currently favors the unicorn Lyra. The mare had moved to town a few months ago and seems fascinated at just the mention of him. Doug chuckles as memories of the subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle hints come back to him.

The food finishes as Big Mac and Granny Smith walk into the room. Doug whistles and the foals stop playing and neatly line up. He watches as Sweetie Belle scoops oats, apples, and a piece of buttered toast onto a plate held by Apple Bloom; she then holds the plate to Scootaloo. The young filly takes a look at who will be getting the plate, consults her list, and places a stack of apple pancakes on the plate. Apple Bloom places the plate onto Applebaum’s back, telling her, “This is for Mama.”

Applebaum nods, walking over to Applejack before returning to the end of the line.

Apple Bloom passes the next plate, saying, “Lemon, this is for your mama.” Lemon dutifully takes the plate, walking over to Pinkie Pie before returning.

“Hedge, your mama.” The small filly takes the plate onto her back, wobbling some. She manages to get to Fluttershy without the plate falling off, though she does have to use her wings to steady it.

“Meringue, are you big enough to hold a plate?” At the filly’s unsure nod, Apple Bloom sighs and makes sure the broom is at its normal spot in the corner. “Alright, just don’t cry if it gets dropped, okay? Just get the dustpan like we practiced.” The filly eagerly jumps up, nearly knocking the plate out of Apple Bloom’s hooves, but manages to make the trip to Pinkie Pie. The mare redirects her to Rainbow Dash before the excited filly takes a seat at the smaller table.

“Pomarbo, you up for a plate as well?” Pomarbo looks glumly at his hooves and shakes his head no. Apple Bloom breathes out a sigh of relief. “It’s okay, maybe next time. Just help Daddy with the glasses, okay?” Pomarbo nods and heads to the foal’s table where he takes the glasses off the tray Doug set down. He carefully places each glass in front of the eight seats. He then fills each from the carafe of apple juice before taking his own seat.

Apple Bloom continues passing plates until Rarity, Big Mac, and Granny Smith each have a plate in front of them. The older foals continue preparing smaller plates for each of their siblings before taking a plate for themselves and heading over to the foal’s table. Doug places a drink in front of everypony, but when he looks for his own plate he comes up short.

Apple Bloom facehooves when she notices his confusion, “Sorry Daddy! Ah guess Ah forgot again...” resulting in a chorus of laughs as Doug chuckles and serves himself, grabbing an extra helping of eggs from the fridge.

“Alright, alright, get this,” Rainbow says, doing her best to suppress a laugh, “Okay. So, we make a bunch of masks of a couple of ponies from town. Say, Lyra and Bon Bon.”

Pinkie Pie scribbles notes onto a piece of paper, nodding furiously.

“Okay, and then…” Rainbow can’t keep the laughter in, bursting out in a loud guffaw.

“And then?” Pinkie asks, her eyes lighting up.

Rainbow continues struggling to rein in her laughter, “Okay, I’m okay. Alright, so I got some paint as well, mane style stuff. Then, when Mayor Mare is doing her big proclamation tomorrow to kick off the events of the celebration… there will be, like, ten Bon Bons and Lyras in the audience!”

Pinkie Pie and Rainbow both beat their hooves against the table, laughing in eerie synchronization.

Applejack rolls her eyes while Rarity responds, “I don’t see the humor in it. Mayor Mare’s eyesight isn’t all that great, even with the glasses, and the whole audience would have to be in on the joke.”

“Not the whole audience, just those from Ponyville,” Rainbow retorts, “We might have to get everything set up at the party beforehoof. But, I mean, how close attention do you think everypony is going to be paying during the proclamation anyway? All eyes are going to be on Princess Celestia as she walks in, and she’s going to look over the audience and see-” Rainbow bursts out laughing again, but settles down as food is placed in front of her.

The other mares have gone back to discussing their duties for the upcoming festival. Doug sits down and Applejack remarks, “Did ya hear? Apparently they are sending somepony from Canterlot to help Ponyville with the preparations. Some sort of, ‘Summer Sun Celebration Organizer’.”

Pinkie Pie chimes in, “Oh! Maybe she’ll have all sorts of ideas to make this celebration totally amazing! Like, more streamers! And balloons shaped like the sun! Balloons that get bigger as the day goes longer!”

Rarity remarks in a slightly disgruntled tone, “Or maybe she’ll just be there to make sure the celebration actually starts when the sun rises. The mayor can never get Winter Wrap Up done on time, they probably just don’t want a fiasco like that happening in front of all the out-of-towners there to watch Princess Celestia raise the sun. Or in front of Princess Celestia, for that matter.”

“Pff, Ponyville would never disappoint Princess Celestia like that! By the way, you got our weather worked out like normal, right Doug?” Rainbow asks as she starts shoveling food into her mouth.

“Yup, somepony in Canterlot even asked for an advance copy. Probably wanted to double check, but it’s kind of hard to mess up clear skies,” Doug answers as he takes a bite of his eggs before reaching for some jam.

Rainbow responds, “Well, ya, duh, but that’s only for the last, what, six hours of today? Before that we have to get everything cold enough so it doesn’t get too hot halfway through tomorrow.”

“Enough work talk, folks, some of us just want to rest their ears before everypony starts clamoring about making sure the food is done.” Applejack rests her elbows on the table, hooves covering her ears as the din from the foal’s table grows louder.

Doug shrugs, “You think the Wonderbolts will be there? I know how much you enjoy showing off your new tricks to them whenever you can. Thought about reapplying?”

Rainbow shrugs noncommittally, “I’m not sure. I still don’t feel like I’m back at the top of my game, you know? And I don’t want to give them anything but my very best! But ya, they will be at the celebration tomorrow, so I might show off just a little.”

Rarity remarks, “Doug, will you be watching the foals, or did you get another assignment for today?”

Doug thinks for a moment before responding, “Nope, just foalsitting and working on weather scheduling. Do you think Apple Bloom, Scootaloo, and Sweetie Belle will be old enough to attend the events tonight?”

At hearing their names, the three fillies come bounding up to the table. “Of course we are, Daddy!” they each chime in.

Rainbow looks at the three, “Well, I think they are old enough! We’ll be able to stay up all night celebrating the sun and Princess Celestia’s totally awesome rule!”

Rarity huffs, “Well, I don’t know about that. What if they get sleepy? It would be far better for them to go to bed and then get up early for the raising.” At seeing the three foal’s downcast faces she relents a little, “Okay, maybe staying up an extra hour. But, as you know, you need your sleep if you want to get up bright and early.”

The fillies look to Applejack, a pleading look on their three little faces. Applejack is used to being the tiebreaker for these kinds of things, easily resisting the look, “Well, Ah don’t see the harm in them staying up just this once. But you three need to be careful not to fall asleep during the raising when Princess Celestia is there! Just, be sure to warn one of us and we’ll see about finding a nice side room where you can take a nap. If you don’t let us know in time and we catch you dozing we’ll have to send you back home, where you can celebrate with Daddy and your siblings.”

A chorus of, “Thanks Mama!” rings out from the excited fillies, who immediately go back to the foal’s table to inform the others and formulate their plans for the next day.

Rarity gives a small frown at being outvoted, but coos softly as Doug runs his hand down her back, scratching as he goes. He remarks, “I’m glad somepony hasn’t given up on their role as Bad Cop to Rainbow’s Overly Excitable Let Anything Go Cop.”

Both Rainbow and Rarity laugh as the mares continue their planning of the upcoming events.

Comments ( 41 )

wait im confused the title of the story is called alternate beginnings year one but the epilogue is called "epilogue six years later"
so if you ever make a sequil would it be called "alternate beginnings year two? or year 7?

8911231
Mostly it is to provide some sense of closure (ends on something of a bombshell)

Sequel, if/when it comes out, is year two.

This was a weirdly addicting little piece of fiction. When I saw how fast the relationship started I was pretty turned off by it, but when I kept pushing through I found the characters and their interactions to be surprisingly well-developed. Even the characters themselves seem to acknowledge how fast their relationships were turning out.

Though there isn't much conflict in the story itself, the pacing is alright and the emotional struggle is real enough to make up for the lack of action.

So at the end of the day, I gotta say that I actually liked this little piece. As long as you can accept how fast the relationship starts out, you can find yourselves easily reading through the whole thing before you know it.

Damn, you really had to Cliff it like that didn't you! I really hope there is another :fluttercry:

8957715
Thanks for the comments! Year two is in the works. One of the goals is to conform to the show as much as possible, continuity is key!

8957991
Uhh is that even possible at this point? Him just being there is going to change things, then with twilight showing up Celestia will be informed and I can't see him sitting on the sidelines when it comes nightmare moon and the retrieval of the elements. I think this going off the script would be better.

I really liked this story, not many I can say I read in one go. The relationships felt a little rushed at first but I'm honestly OK with that. I generally prefer focus on the actual relationships rather than spend half the story building up to them.

One minor nitpick, I'm not sure how necessary the Fluttershy and Pinkie tags are as they aren't really a major part of the story. It's mostly focused on Applejack, Rarity and Rainbow with the 2 of them not really showing up until the end and even then they don't get nearly as much focus as the other 3. But like I said mostly just a nitpick since I feel like the tags aren't necessary if the characters don't have a major role in the story.

How come Twilight is never in any of the cover art?

9017502
This is set before Twilight arrives in Ponyville so she isn't in the story yet.

Comment posted by Doug Graves deleted Jun 30th, 2018

Pretty big edit to chapter 1, minor edit to chapter 2. I feel like it's 800 words of Applejack bashing, mostly to set the mood and give a better reason to why she would consider things in later chapters. One of the themes is a bit of cultural misunderstanding and rushing things, so the quick progression is a little intended. But also because I hate drama. As for the lack of reaction between Doug and Applejack; I guess, maybe, that one or the other might freak out, but there are plenty of stories where that happens. But Applejack knows of lots of different sapient creatures, what's one more? And for Doug, I feel like we as humans have enough fiction regarding alternate dimensions or mythological creatures that the experience wouldn't be so jarring as to faint or lash out. Like I said, plenty of other stories where that happens. But, suggestions and comments are certainly appreciated!

9036890
I didn't want to make the lamp too bright.

9039576
over all i give your story a 7 out of ten mane reason lack of satyrs and centaurs coming from a human and pony geting together hell a anthro would make more sense then them having slightly weaker magic levels

I want to bash this, but there's nothing that can be said that wouldn't apply to any of it's clones on this site. Dialogue, plot, pacing, cardboard human character...there's nothing here that stands out.

9128148
I read comments like this, and the worst part is, I think them myself! But I'm not sure exactly how to make it better, or what parts to improve. Like the cardboard character; he is open to new experiences, low key, who doesn't like things being unresolved, and this results in, by and large, a fairly unexciting (main) character. And, to a certain extent, a less exciting story, but I don't know if excitement (as in thrill or adventure) was my primary goal.

I can argue back and forth with myself (and I do, I constantly make minor edits), but what sort of things do you think could have been done better? Or, do you have a generally positive impression of most of the stories on this sight, and this fit along with them? (Only somewhat kidding)

9128219
The problem is this story is a carbon copy of hundreds of others.

9139840
How incredibly unoriginal, I know.

9213735
i was talking about the sudden proposal that came out of left field

9253714
Glad you enjoyed it! Agreed on the fast pace of the start. I could add in more dialogue to the extent of, 'that's interesting but irrelevant to our situation'. Applejack certainly isn't Twilight!

9304798

We are talking about a member of a Military Organisation, With how Obsessive RD is I would be surprised if Spitfire DIDN'T have her under watch.

Far as the Medical Records go? She would have to check them for not only the safety of the person (pony) applying but also for the Safety of the other Team members. After all can't have some Crazy wako or potential Assassin join a group that get's EXTREMELY clsoe to the Princesses.

9320840
I'd claim he's high on love, but he's married.

The writing for this story is good, but the pacing / plot progression feels rushed and artificial at times. Keep up the good work.

9326167
Thanks! The later books do retain some of that disjointed feel and writing style, trying to be more episodic than epic.

9326356
I wasn't referring to the episodic style of the story, there's nothing wrong with using that format. What I meant is that some plot points are presented without any setup or ground work so it ends up feeling forced or artificial. In some scenes it seems like stuff is skipped or glossed over.

I’m pointing those things out because it tends to break the immersion, at least for me.

Why is everything written in present tense?

9346318
Oddly enough, that's the first time I've gotten that comment. I'm not sure, exactly; I started writing that way and pretty soon it got easier to continue writing in present than to shift to past.

9349818
i can understand that, concerning the weird longevity issue in the show (granny pie was supposedly there during the founding of ponyville hundreds or so years ago), honestly we dont know what the life expectancy is for any character and cant compare the characters to real life species as there are far too many variables to consider (magic, alternate reality, pinkiepie). when i ship Rarity and Spike, i dont think of the science behind it (size and/or species compatibility), but i ship them more for their interests and romantic potential. i ship them because i simply believe they would be happy together.

9375838
Thank you! While I stand by what I posted but this story is running the long game.

Looks like he was just making for an entry point overall.

Honestly this gets alot better over time.

9462686
I'd like to point out that there is no such a thing as primary colors in nature. The reason we consider specific colors as primary is that we have only 3 types of wavelength receptors in our eyes and they react to quite limited ranges of wavelengths each. Two of which overlaps quite a lot, BTW. So, anything we can see is these 3 colors and stuff in between to some degree and brightness from brightness receptors. Everything else is how our brain interpret these sources of data. However, light itself doesn't care which receptors we have and which we doesn't and can have any wavelength. In fact visible light is only a tiny fraction in the known spectrum of wavelengths. With infrared and ultraviolet laying outside of this spectrum. They are called like that exactly because we can't see them and that is the reason why we need special equipment to map fractions of ranges beyond visible spectrum into visible one. That indifference is actually the reason why you get a rainbow when sunlight goes through a prism instead of few separate lines of "base" colors. However, our eyes are imperfect. I'd even say they are broken in so many ways that detailed description would require quite a lengthy article just to list all known issues with very short description of each. This imperfection allows to fool us into thinking that we see white light when only 3 wavelength we perceive the best are present. True white light, though, covers entire spectrum and goes above and beyond it.

9462799
Quite yes. I merely added the (primary) qualifier because of our perceptions, so that we could allow instances of combinations of light in the spectrum to show "white". I did mention the EoH would show the entire spectrum of light. Relatedly, I pointed that inanimate objects are infrared, or below visible red, because I figured that in a world of magic and the ability to sense it like how we sense light, those beings would not perceive inanimate objects as "visible", as they are below the required energy level to activate their receptors. In other words, analogous to our visible spectrum, the magical light representation would also have a limited range for the most relevant wavelengths to the creatures.

As an aside, one of my most disliked limitations on how we see is where, if I flick a light on and off quickly enough, I will see the lighting to be somewhere in the middle of brightness of what's actually true: I have an LED bulb connected to a dimmer, and rather than lowering the intensity of the light, it simply switches the ratio of off/on for the light, and so I perceive it to be dimmer, where in truth the brightness in the room is only "ambient" or "bright" with no in-between.

9462863
That's why I said any reading on Luna would show a lower wavelength than Celestia; and, NMM would probably show a different spectrum because of her corruption. Finally, the Sun is far more intense than the Moon, and gives off a wider spectrum at that, so while she'd have the higher-energy wavelength, it wouldn't be as powerful.

9463045
Actually, this limitation is at least useful. I myself more annoyed with the fact that only tiny fraction of what we see is as it is... if any. First of all due to lens left is right and up is down. Or brain fixes that by flipping image back. Next is that color receptors are located only in the middle, so all our peripheral vision is actually in shades of grey. Brain repaints it in the real time! Next is the freaking blind spots! I mean, seriously, there are quite large areas in each eye which see literally nothing because there are no receptors to catch even brightness! Why? Because evolution made our eyes in a way that they are looking inside of our head and all the wiring from receptors is going inside of an eye and have to go into the brain somehow. Thus the blind spot. The place where wiring goes outside. Yes, brain fixes this bs as well. And seriously, we perceive light with the back side of receptors where wiring interferes with the light. If I'd want to intentionally design light perception organ in the most broken way possible I doubt I'd come up with something even remotely that bad. And that is only how we see a still image. You know what happens when you quickly move your eyes? Have you noticed that there almost never any blurred image in between. You just suddenly looking in the new direction. Nope, eyes ain't that fast! Brain just shuts image stream for a fraction of a second to hide movement and then reconstructs movements of perceived objects in between! And plays that reconstruction before running direct streaming. All that slightly faster to catch up with the reality. >_< You can even catch it doing so.

9463192
I remember in sixth grade we dissected sheeps' eyes and learned of many limitations of the eye. The central blind spot honestly intrigues me, though I can easily imagine how it could be remedied. As for the frame-skipping/anti-blur mechanism, I find it can be perceived while reading; notice that you look at each word, then skip to the next. Easier to notice when you're sleepy (like I am right now). The reason we black out images during eye-movement is because otherwise we'd get disoriented, or so I've heard... (but then, I would think our brains are plastic enough to be able to normalize this...) The thing I didn't know were that the color receptors are centralized.

Did you know that some women have a fourth color receptor, btw? The gene responsible is on the X chromosome, so men can't get it, sadly.

9463342
Never heard about it. Curious. As I understood it's quite rare and even those who have tetrachromacy may not see any extra colors.

9463418
From what I can gather, in general, they see about the same rainbow, just there is more variety in vibrance, and they are better able to discern similar colors.

9591959
Thanks! I freely admit, that was an aspect that I intentionally included, yet did a poor job executing. If (when?) I redo the first year, there would certainly be more conflict/issues, rather than things working out so cleanly. Especially because, as you point out, I wanted to focus on those issues that might arise from such a 'beginning'.

WOAH!!! That's a lot of freaking kids!! Like, wow.
Now I'm wondering if a female human and a male pony had a kid, would it be a human wizard? Not sure if the "Smart/Inquisitive" gene would be attached to the male or not.
Not a bad story, hard to get started on, but I came back to it.
I'm thinking that if they do end up being parents of so many by the time Twilight comes around, will the 5 of 6 still be able to do their element duties?
Also, do you keep the epilogue consistent with the future books? Or is this just an end point to show what could happen, and they don't actually have this many kids in the sequels? (Cause my god thats a lot of kids!)

9699846
It seems like a lot at first brush, but there are five females, and spread out over the years. The epilogues are consistent, and you may notice something about them as you go through the books.

Never really thought too much about human females, except that in general the kid is the 'magic' species, i.e. not human, but with some human characteristics. A human female... might want to get a cesarean. Those heads are gigantic!

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