• Published 3rd Aug 2019
  • 748 Views, 51 Comments

The Filly Within - Detsella Morningdew

With all the evidence stacked up against her, can Sweetie Belle remain herself? A Sweetie Bot story.

  • ...

Chapter 1: A Departure From the Norm

The air was crisp and cool, stars shone brightly with the absence of the moon, and the evergreen trees covered the ground with a surprisingly comfortable layer of needles. The pleasant odor of burning pine permeated the clearing, as a cheerful fire burned within a cicle of hastily thrown-together rocks.

"I can't believe it took you that long to start the fire, Apple Bloom."

"Well if it's so easy, you start it next time."

"Well you're the one who said you were an expert."

"It's.... been a long time since Applejack taught me, okay?"

"And we still don't have our survivalism cutie marks."

"Lay off her, Scootaloo. We have a fire now. I just wish we didn't have to walk so far just to go camping."

"No, no. This isn't camping, Sweetie. It's survival-ing. Totally different."

"Ummm... how exactly?"

"No adult supervision!"

"Oh, okay. That makes sense. I still don't think 'survival-ing' is a word, though."

"What else would you call it then?"

"Uh.... I dunno."

Scootaloo crossed her front legs, flinging droplets of tree sap into the fire. "I rest my case."

The statement was a bit more dramatic than she intended, as the highly flammable drops of pine sap took the opportunity to explode. Apple Bloom just managed to keep the rest of the flaming sticks inside of the little ring they created, but her expression told the rest of them that she was suddenly wanting to be a lot further away from the fire.

"Uh, girls? I think we all should probably wash off. Like now-ish."

"But who's going to watch the fire?" Scootaloo pointed out. "You said that was kinda important. Like, the 'burn the forest down' kind of important."

Apple Bloom grimaced. "Right. Uh... I guess we'll take turns then. Sweetie?"


"You have the least sap... on your hooves, at least."

Sweetie giggled nervously. Her mane wasn't exactly in a state that would be fixed by a single wash, especially without soap. And Scootaloo had insisted that it wasn't real survivalism if they brought soap.

"And you're the only other pony I'd trust to not burn the forest down."


Apple Bloom reached out with the fire-poking stick, and Sweetie nervously took it. "All right. Just don't take too long, okay?"

The others left for the stream they had located earler, on Apple Bloom's insistence. If anypony was getting a cutie mark out of this, Sweetie thought, it was her. Sure, it was mostly just Apple Family knowledge, but she was definitely doing a... well, if not a good job, at least a passable one.

Sweetie held the fire stick in her hooves, but didn't really do much with it. Apple Bloom liked to poke the fire a lot with it, but she realized that she didn't have any of that "Apple Family knowledge," other than what she told the other Crusaders.

The only thing she was looking for was if a burning stick fell out of the ring. That's what Apple Bloom said was the most dangerous, and could burn the forest down. Fortunately, the grass underneath their hooves was pretty wet, even though it was getting close to the Running of the Leaves again.

Still, she kept a bit further from the fire than usual. None of them had realized that the tree sap they were so used to was flammable. And she certainly didn't want her skin exploding.

The way the sap droplets "popped" in the fire was very interesting, though. They didn't just catch fire - they pushed the sticks away from the little explosions. Like how Pinkie's cannon pushed away confetti. And... other items.

But thinking about Pinkie too much was never a good idea.

Fireworks, on the other hoof, might be finally within reach again after they had been banned from entering Dr. Hooves' lab. (For real this time.)

She started to become increasingly aware about the very combustible sap in her fur, both excited at the possibility... and nervous about the fire that wasn't really that far away from her, since she had to be close enough to poke it with the stick.

Fortunately, she didn't have to worry for much longer, as Apple Bloom and Scootaloo finally returned at a hurried trot.

Apple Bloom took the stick back. "Come on Sweetie, it's your turn."

Sweetie Belle practically galloped away towards the stream, and for once in her life, didn't take her time washing up. She still needed to take a bath when she got home anyway. With real soap.

But as soon as she was no longer a fire hazard, she rushed back towards the camp. The creepy sounds from the forest at night had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Besides, she had a new idea to share - one that might earn them all their cutie marks.

...Or more realistically, now that she thought of it, probably just Apple Bloom. She was the only one of them that was any good at building things. Fireworks were really cool and all, but she just couldn't see herself with a firework-making cutie mark at all. Same with survivalism, really, but it was more fun to do things with friends anyway.

And for the first time, even if they didn't get cutie marks for it, all of the Crusaders would have something fun to show for it afterwards.

If it worked at all, that is.

But it still felt odd to think it outright - that she probably wouldn't get a cutie mark for something, and it wasn't the worst thing in the world. As long as she got to do it with her friends.

And it was totally cool anyway. Fireworks always were.

"Didn't we already try to get cutie marks in firework-making? And get banned from Dr. Hooves' lab for it?"

"Okay, yeah, sure. But this isn't about cutie marks!"

Scootaloo looked baffled. "It isn't? You just said it was!"

Sweetie snorted. "I mean, I said it was, but... I mean... that was kinda just out of habit. I mean, we do everything together, right? Even if one pony doesn't really like whatever it is."

Apple Bloom nodded, and Scootaloo gave a reluctant shrug.

"I mean, I'm sure neither of you really were into it that time when I tried to make dresses like Rarity."

"...yeah, I guess so."

"But what's the one common denominator with all of this?"

"...The what?"

Sweetie shook her head. "Oops, sorry. What happens, like, every single time we go Crusading?"

Apple Bloom rolled her eyes. "Tree sap?" Scootaloo shuddered.

"Exactly. So what if we could make getting tree sap fun? We'd have, like, unlimited fireworks."

"All right, all right, you've made your point. Still don't like how it gets in my feathers, though."

"So..." Apple Bloom started. "It's decided then. Before our next crusade... or maybe after, if we can't find the tree sap, we start experimenting with it." She looked down at the fire, now lower, but warm with embers. "And maybe we might be able to use it as a firestarter next time instead of trying to light wet wood with sparks."

Sweetie grinned. "That's the spirit!"

"Now where can we get some barrels..."

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