• Published 3rd Mar 2019
  • 2,441 Views, 72 Comments

I Thought You'd Never Ask... - Rockstar_Raccoon

Twilight Sparkle brings the Student Six through a series of field trips to each others homelands as they mature. | Long-form exploration of the Student 6 and their homelands | Followup to "What's Your Problem?"

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A Friendly Neigh to your Neighbors

I Thought You’d Never Ask

Two weeks into the semester, the auditorium was alive and echoing with the chatter of students as they poured through the doors and wandered over to their seats. Nopony had much information about the “special announcement” their headmare, Princess Twilight, aside from the fact that the teachers had said it was a last minute addition to the curriculum that hadn’t been on the syllabus at the beginning of the semester.

From the side door, the decidedly non-equine section of the student body began to shuffle in, beginning with a cyan changeling and an orange dragon.

“So, lemme get this straight,” Smolder furrowed her brow, “They go out and get food, then they bring it back, and other changelings eat it?”

“Yeah,” Ocellus nodded, “That’s what gathering is!”

“I don't get it. What do they get in return? I mean, they're just feeding the others for nothing!”

Ocellus shook her head, “They do it because they’re part of the community, and that’s their role in it. If they couldn't do it, some other changeling would do it for them.”

“That doesn't make any sense...” Smolder crossed her arms.

As they continued to debate collectivism versus being solitary nomads, a green pony walked in, nodding quietly as a pink Hippogryph flew next to him, talking animatedly.

“...but that’s when I realized, the Earth Ponies weren’t farming the potatoes... The potatoes were farming them!”

“Uh huh, uh huh... Wait... You got all this from the assigned reading for pony history?”

Silverstream bobbed her head excitedly, “Right! The whole point of the potato famine was that the Earth Ponies needed the potatoes! They were a flock lost without their shepherds!!”

“Uh... Silver? I’ve worked with potatoes, they’re not intelligent enough to know what’s going on, let alone be referred to as ‘shepherds’.”

“Then how do they hold conversations? Because in biology class, the book said that Earth Ponies talk with them!”

“That’s... That’s not how that works. That’s not how anything works!”

As the Earth Pony struggled to explain how farming worked to the badly misunderstanding Hippogryph, a young yak cow trotted eagerly in, a gryphon with blue feathers (an extremely rare coloration) slinking in behind her with a smirk.

“Calm down Yona,” Gallus teased, “The seats aren’t gonna gallop off on us.”

Yona held her head high, “Yak show up to gatherings in timely fashion! Yaks always prompt and punctual!”

“Uh... I’m pretty sure both those words mean the same thing.”

“That only make double clear fact that yaks double good at being on time! Besides, Yona learning bigger words, sound smarter, like Headmare Twilight!”

Gallus rolled his eyes, “Yeah, I’m suuure that’s gonna make up for the accent...”

Yona grinned and gave a nod, the sarcasm lost on her as they all took their seats, the five exchange students and their friend Sandbar, lined up in a row near the front.

Around them, the chatter of the student body turned to murmurs as the Headmare took the stage.

Twilight Sparkle brought a hoof to her chest, breathing in resolutely, then let it swing outwards as she exhaled slowly. She looked down at her note cards, silently checking that they were all in the order she remembered

Keep a strong face. Smile. Smile. Good. She coached internally, The past few days were a little stressful, but don’t let them know that. These are just field trips, nothing more.

She straightened up, clearing her throat and putting on the calm smile, just like her and Celestia had practiced for the past few hours.

“Ahem! Hello, and thank you for coming everycreature!” she began, the tension in her spine slowly unwinding as she got it over with, “How are you all doing this morning?”

The student body gave a quiet cheer of positive responses.

“Booored!” Gallus mock-yelled with a grin, just loud enough for his friends to hear. Smolder chuckled openly, while the others tried to pretend it wasn’t amusing. He’d gotten cheery again since his sudden breakdown a week ago, and his rude antics were once again infrequent enough that they had regained their spontaneity.

Twilight smiled, beginning to relax. That’s right. I run a school now. I’m a great headmare. I’ve got this.

“In my years as Princess of Friendship, I’ve come to understand that friendship is not confined within the borders of Equestria, nor is it something shared only by ponies. Rather, it is something that any creature anywhere can share, and creatures all over the world do so every day. Unfortunately, being an Equestrian school, we have only managed, thus far, to include notions of friendships between ponies in our curriculum. This has to change!” She slammed her hoof down on the podium, immediately having to stop herself from wincing too obviously.

She flipped to the next card, hoping the students hadn’t noticed the wood beginning to splinter after her alicorn hoof had made a sizeable gash in the surface. “Tha-THAT- is why I have contacted the leaders of the six foreign nations which have shown the most interest in being involved in this school, in order to negotiate their cooperation in a series of educational experiences. These countries are the Changeling Hive, Yakyakistan, Mount Aris, The Crystal Empire, The Dragon Lands, and Griffonstone.”

“Hey guys,” Silverstream whispered excitedly, “You think she’s talking about us?”

“Probably.” Ocellus waved her down with a hoof, “Let’s be quiet and see.”

“After some discussion, the other leaders have agreed to allow me to bring large groups of students into their territories for informative and enjoyable first-hoof experiences with their cultures, as envoys of both education and good-will.” she stopped, smirking for a second as she looked around at the confused faces of her audience, some of which were beginning to light up as the meaning of her words clicked to them. Finally, she added, “in laypony terms... We’re going on international field trips.”

The entire auditorium erupted in a cheer which dwarfed the previous one, ponies standing up and stomping, high-hoofing, shouting to their friends, and jumping up and down in excitement, a few pegasi even dancing above the heads of everypony else.

Yona pumped her hoof, “YES! Yakyakistan field trip will be BEST field trip!”

“Oh. My. Gosh!!” Silverstream trilled, now hovering above the group, “Queen Novo’s probably gonna put on a HUGE festival for us you guys!!” she gasped, “And you get to see the STAIRS of Mount Aris!!

Ocellus smiled, staying in her seat, “I’d love to show you all the hive: it’s become such a nice place to live ever since King Thorax came to power!”

Smolder was on her feet, waving her arms, “Aw yeah! We get to fly over the Smouldering Mountains, and you’re gonna see the boiling sea, and the cauldron of fire... This is gonna be a blast!”

“Yeah,” Gallus grinned as he jumped to his feet, turning to the others, “I can’t wait to see where you all are from!”

“Yeah!” Sandbar piped in, caught up in the excitement, “And you'll get to show us around Griffonstone!” He looked away just long enough to miss the griffin’s expression shift.

Gallus gritted his teeth, trying not to let the sinking pit of his stomach show too much on his face, “Uh, yeah... That too...”

Silverstream held her hands to her face, kicking her hooves giddily in the air, “I'm so excited I think I'm gonna burst!!”

Pinkie Pie popped up behind them, as if she’d been there the whole time, “I know right? That's what I said! Twilight was all like, ‘we're gonna take the students on some field trips to other countries’, and I was all like, ‘EEEEEEEEE!!!!’” she just kept squealing in one long falsetto note after that.

Silverstream gasped, dropping to stand on her hind-legs, “That's a great way to react to it! EEEEEEEE!!!!”

The others shrank back, covering their ears as the two shrieked and danced about on their hind-hooves.

Meanwhile, Twilight loudly knocked her hoof against the podium like a gavel, careful not to damage the laquered oak boards any further, “Alright everycreature, settle down! We’ve still got a few things to go through here, and you’ll need to know this if you want to go!” she waited for them to quiet down, but didn’t hide her grin, flipping to the next card. “These field trips will be scheduled intermittently throughout the semester, which means that, hopefully, those of you with tight schedules will be able to attend at least one of them. The first one will be a weekend trip to the Changeling Hive, two and a half weeks from now. The dates and locations rest will be posted on the bulletin boards, within the next few weeks until the details are finalized.”

She cleared her throat, taking on an air of seriousness, “Remember that on these trips, we will be entering other countries with which alliances are under active negotiation. All of you will be representing Equestria, and whatever other country you may be from. I expect you all to be on your best behavior, and refrain from causing any international incidents.”

She shot a glance at where Rainbow was sitting in the audience, who returned the look as if she didn’t know.

“Let me be clear on that.” she continued, “Don’t go anywhere they tell us not to, don’t do anything that might damage a landmark, don’t make negative comments on their culture or traditions, and don’t try and show up their military flight squadrons with your own moves, no matter how ‘totally awesome’ you think it will be.” She shot Rainbow another look.

This time, Rainbow had the decency to bite her lip and look away. “One time,” she muttered, “You do an unrequested demonstration in front of the Hippogryph air force one time. ‘Least I didn’t try to steal their stupid magic pearl...”

Twilight continued, “Consider yourselves guests in the homes of creatures you want to make friends with, and follow the rules as they show you around, and I’m sure we’ll all be just fine.” She let her smile return, “Teachers will be hoofing out the required paperwork in class over the next few weeks, and they must be filled out in full ahead of time for you to go, so be sure and get them signed and turned in as early as possible. I’m sure these trips will be wonderful experiences, and I hope to see you all there!”

She stepped back from the podium, and the student body went back to their excited chatter with much greater vigour than they’d had when they came in the room. Every creature, be they pony, changeling, hippogriff, dragon, yak, or griffon could agree: this was going to be totally awesome!

Author's Note:

Here it is, the beginning of the actual story, and the tone most of it will follow. (Yes, Twilight stressing may be played for laughs) This is looking like it's gonna be some great fun to write. Next chapter should see them on a train to the Changeling Hive!

Just a reminder, I have a Patreon now, and the money from that would give me more time to write these stories. Also, I'll be posting my non-pony stuff there, as well as extra material for paid subscribers. Go check it out!