• Published 4th Apr 2019
  • 737 Views, 47 Comments

Errors - The Cloptimist

Three unlikely heroines are accidentally sent halfway across the world. How will they get home?

  • ...

A(nother) Road to Friendship



"Hngggh, no. Teleport!"


"Come on, come on! TELEPORT!!!"


"Would you stop doing that? You know it doesn't work. Why do you have to keep on doing it anyway?", spat Diamond Tiara, through a mouthful of dust.

"Well excuse me if I haven't just accepted we're stuck here! I can't just do nothing. The Great and Powerful Trixie does not end up dead in some desert somewhere in the middle of nowhere!"

"Nuh-uh," said Derpy, crossing her forelegs as she hovered a couple of feet above. "We aren't gonna die."

"How can you know that?", whined Trixie.

"Because Diamond said so," beamed Derpy, happily. Trixie rolled her eyes and pulled her cape further over her head.

"I wish I hadn't lost my hat," she moaned.

"We could have all taken turns wearing it!", grinned Derpy, seemingly unbothered by the sand getting stuck in her teeth as she gave a wide, cheery smile. "I could have been The Great and Powerful..."

"...Please don't," snorted Trixie, unamused.

"At least she's trying to stay positive," snarled Diamond Tiara, brushing more sand out of her face.

"Oooh, yes, staying positive, that's what's going to save us," drawled Trixie, rolling her eyes as she shielded them behind a hoof. "I just don't see a lot of good news at the moment. We found these tracks. Yay. But the hoofprints seem to be going in both directions, and for all we know, we're following them the wrong way! What if they just end? What if we've spent days following in the hoofsteps of a pony who realised she was lost, and decided to turn back on herself? What if we find her... or what's left of her?"

"What are you talking about, 'days'? It's been, like, a couple of hours," said Diamond Tiara, trying to keep a lid on her annoyance. "Muffins couldn't see anything for miles in either direction, we had to pick one, we're following them this way."

"She's right, Trixie, I looked and looked and there was nopony there wherever I looked at all," nodded Derpy in confirmation, earning another snort.

"We could have split up," said Trixie.

"Yeah, we could have. And maybe one of us would have found something, and found a way to get word back to the others, and we'd all be safe and rescued."

"Yes, that's what I'm-"

"Or maybe we'd all have been walking away from each other for a hundred miles before we all collapsed from lack of water, or because some desert animal saw one of us alone and decided we looked good to eat or something."

Derpy gave a nervous squeak at the mention of desert animals.

"...We're best off staying together, Trixie. My daddy always said so."

"Why does your dad spend so much time teaching you survival basics?"

"He's obsessed with something bad happening to the family. He says he has nightmares about me being foalnapped and held for ransom or something. He says that's why he stayed in Ponyville... I mean, we could live in Manehattan, or even Canterlot full time, we could have a huge house and I could go to a private school and everything, but nooooo, he likes Ponyville, because everyone's so friendly. He says it's safer there. I think he's crazy. How may monster attacks and crazy scrapes happen there? And... this" - she gestured at the desert around her with her hoof - "isn't making his argument any better."

"Your dad really loves Ponyville, huh?", asked Trixie, speeding up her walk to catch up with the angry filly.

"I guess," said Diamond. "But I wish he liked Canterlot more."

"You wouldn't like it there," said Trixie, almost dismissively. "It's clean, and it has nice restaurants, it's fine for a visit, but... I don't think it's a good place for ponies who aren't unicorns."

"You're a unicorn," said Diamond, confused.

"Yes," said Trixie. "But I'm not really their kind of unicorn, either."

"I'm a pegasus!", chimed Derpy, happily.

"...Anyway," continued Trixie, after a confused pause, "I've never felt entirely comfortable in Canterlot. One time I was trying to do a show there, and of course all the stuck-up unicorns were giving me trouble. It's always the same. 'You need a permit to park your wagon there, Trixie! You can't perform for paying customers without a ninety-bit license, Trixie! Your last illusion could have landed the schoolponies in the hospital, Trixie!' Ugh, like they couldn't have worn raincoats? I told them the first two rows might get wet. I told them! OK, sure, they probably thought I meant from one of my illusions, and not from me knocking over that water tower, but, I mean, come on, wet is wet! Right?"

Trixie realised she was scowling, and took a deep breath, spitting out more sand, before continuing in a calmer fashion. "No, Canterlot is not for me. I guess I was just too Great and Powerful for those snobs. Give Trixie Las Pegasus any day of the week!"

"I like Ponyville", said Derpy.

"Well, that figures," said Diamond, and then checked herself, noting Derpy's crestfallen expression. "I'm sorry, Muffins. I didn't mean to be rude. Why don't you tell us why you like Ponyville so much?"

Derpy gave a huge smile, happy to be included in the conversation. "Ponyville is a nice place! All my friends are so nice and friendly. In Cloudsdale, all the ponies used to laugh at me and call me mean names when I dropped a parcel, or got an address wrong, or messed up Winter Wrap Up for the birds because I just love talking to them so much while I'm flying, and everypony thought I didn't know which way was south but it was not because of that, I just liked hearing the birds sing, and when I talked to the birds they never said mean things or called me bad names or looked at my special eyes like that, and then when I came to Ponyville everypony just liked to sing and dance and Fluttershy said she liked talking to the birds, too, and I could talk to her birds whenever I wanted to, and she could even tell me what they said to me sometimes too and I thought it must be the happiest place in the whole of Equestria, and when I do clumsy things or accidentally break stuff or make a mistake, everypony always just says it's OK, and usually they smile, and I like my job so much, and I like helping my friends, and then there's the Doctor, and..."

Derpy's voice tailed off as she realised her travelling companions were just staring at her.

"...I like Ponyville," said Derpy, sheepishly.

"...I like it too," said Trixie, and gave Derpy a little smile, which the pegasus returned tenfold. "C'mon, Muffins. Let's all keep going. We'll all be back home soon."

Diamond gave a snort, and made a show of rolling her eyes, but she didn't say anything to correct them, and the three of them kept on walking.

"I've been thinking," said Diamond.

"Oh, this should be fun," snapped Trixie, and Diamond ignored her. Their tempers were starting to get frayed now; the sun was rising in the sky, the air was getting hotter, and the lovely breeze from Derpy's wings was ruined by the fine sand it inevitably beat up from the ground into their eyes and muzzles. They were thirsty, and lost, and fed up, and even Derpy's childlike enthusiasm had started to wane.

"We said these tracks couldn't, like, keep going forever," said Diamond, pressing on despite Trixie's annoyance.

"Well, it certainly feels that way right now," said Trixie.

"See, well, that's what I was thinking about. Nothing seems natural about this place, it's all weird. There's nothing, no hills, no sand dunes, nothing but these tracks. The whole place is just flat, and red, and... it's, like, endless."

"The Great and Powerful Trixie commends your remarkable powers of observation, Diamond Tiara," snorted Trixie, condescendingly, and Diamond gritted her teeth. "We can all see that. What does that have to do with anything?"

"Has anyone ever told you how annoying you are?", snapped Diamond, finally losing her patience.

"...Yes," said Trixie, quietly, as Diamond continued to vent.

"I'm trying to get us out of here. I'm just a filly! I shouldn't be expected to be doing this! You're the adult, and a hero of Equestria, and you've done nothing but whine, and cast spells that don't do anything! At least Muffins is helping! And this is at least as much your fault as hers!"

"I just don't know what went-" began Derpy, but Trixie cut her off.

"You think this is easy for me?", said Trixie, her eyes welling up. "If Starlight was with us, she'd have us out of here in no time! She makes everything look so easy! What can I do? 'Oh, Trixie, you're such a great stage magician!' Great! I can pull a rabbit out of a hat, but I can't save us!"

She closed her eyes, breathing slowly, and tried to pull herself together.

"I was trying to stop the accident from happening," continued Trixie, in a softer and quieter voice. "I was trying to save us, and I just made it worse."

She looked up at Diamond Tiara, with an apologetic expression.

"...I always make things worse."

"...You don't," said Diamond, after a long pause. "You were only trying to help. You did what any good pony would have done, it just... didn't work. That's not your fault. At least you tried, right?"

"Well, you're trying now, and I know I should be nicer about it," said Trixie. "I'm not a leader, I know that. And you really remind me of Starlight sometimes, the way you just kind of... take charge. I wish I could do that sometimes. It's taken me years just to be able to remind myself that, even if some ponies judge me on my past, I don't have to be that way any more."

"Yeah, well, you should have, like, met me a couple of years ago," said Diamond. "I wasn't very nice, at all. I spent most of my life shouting at other ponies, and wondering why everypony didn't do exactly what I wanted them to do, all of the time. And I was so mean to the Cutie Mark Crusaders, because I just didn't understand what they were going through, or what they were doing, or how they always managed to make such a mess doing it. Well, I still don't know the answer to that last one, but... whatever. And I'd, like, lash out at them, and I said some really horrible things that I wish I could take back, but you never can. Daddy always says, 'don't run from your mistakes, learn from them'. And... I'm trying to do that. I know why they forgave me for it. I still, like, don't know how."

"At the ceremony... the one where I got this thing," said Trixie, pointing to the Pink Heart of Courage still attached to her cape, "I spoke to Princess Celestia. I couldn't believe it, you know? Princess Celestia, talking to me, a common street magician who once tried to banish her faithful student to Tartarus. I was so scared... and it was just amazing. She told me that even if some ponies never accepted me, even if they never believed I'd truly changed, that wasn't important. She said she knew I wanted to change, and not because I'd done this great and powerful thing to help save Equestria, but because I didn't give up when I could have. She sat me down, and put her wing around me, and for a moment, just that one little moment, I felt like I hadn't done all those awful things, and that all these ponies saying nice things about me were telling the truth. Like I actually deserved it."

Trixie stared down at the sandy ground.

"...It was the best moment of Trixie's life."

"I think you are both nice ponies," said Derpy, breaking the awkward silence, and swooped down to envelop both of them in her spread wings for a big, cuddly hug.

"Uh... thanks," said Diamond, trying her best to wriggle free, while Trixie just shrugged and leaned into it.

"Wait a second", said Diamond, her ears pricked up. "Go back. What did you say about Twilight?"

Trixie visibly flinched at the mention of that name, causing Derpy to hug her even closer. "What?"

"About what you tried to do to Twilight," said Diamond, deep in thought.

"Oh, Trixie did all sorts of horrible things. I made her a laughing stock, I got hold of this evil amulet thing and punished her friends with evil magic, I took over a whole town, I tried to banish her to Tartarus..."

"Tartarus!", said Diamond, her eyes lit up. "That's it. I remember hearing about it."

"What do you mean?", said Trixie, finally pulling clear of the hug, as Derpy continued to smile.

"I mean, what if these tracks really did, like, go on forever? Because they're, like, not real, and that spell somehow sent us to Tartarus?"

"I don't like that idea," said Derpy, nervously. "Tartarus is for bad ponies. We are nice ponies."

"We're trying to be nice ponies," corrected Trixie.

"No," said Derpy. "That's silly. You used to be mean, but now you aren't mean any more, and everypony always told me that a mean pony is just a nice pony who has lost their way. And you are trying not to be mean, and that makes you nice."

"What about you, then?", said Trixie. "You've always been 'nice', right?"

"I do break things and bump into things and forget things sometimes," said Derpy, looking down. "And I think I did make an accident happen. But it was an accident. So I don't think we are bad ponies. If this is Tartarus, it must all be a big mistake, like the mistakes I sometimes make, and nopony is being mean to us on purpose."

"It doesn't matter why we ended up here," said Diamond, face-hoofing. "Although, I'm pretty sure we aren't, like, being punished for bad things we did in the past, or whatever. But we need to get out of here, and if we did get sent to Tartarus, then I think maybe just, like, walking forever is not gonna do it."

"Wait, though, hold on a moment," said Trixie.

"...guys?", said Derpy, but Trixie waved a hoof to quiet her.

"OK. If this is Tartarus," said Trixie, "then how come we haven't seen one other pony or creature since we got here? Wouldn't it be full of, I don't know, criminals and stuff?"

"...Guys," said Derpy.

"Well, maybe it's, like, a magic thing," said Diamond, tapping her hoof on her chin in thought. "Maybe every pony who gets sent here sees something different. Like, a unique punishment, or whatever."

"Guys," said Derpy.

"What, and so our punishment for being so bad in the past is that we have to keep walking on a road that goes nowhere, until one of us has this conversation and realises why we're here? And Muffins just got dragged along by accident?", said Trixie, one eyebrow raised in skeptical confusion.

"GUYS!" yelled Derpy.

"WHAT?" barked Diamond Tiara. "What is it now? Friendship is important? Hugs are great? You can see some sand?!"

"There's ponies," said Derpy, pointing with a hoof.

Diamond Tiara and Trixie stared in disbelief as, on the horizon, a huge cloud of dust became visible, getting larger and closer, followed by the silhouettes of several ponies at its heart. As they got nearer, the trio could make out that the new ponies appeared to be heavily armoured, and carrying long spears, their metal tips glinting in the sun.

"Should we run?" asked Trixie, nervously.

"Where?" snapped Diamond. "There is literally nowhere to go."

"What are we gonna do...?", asked Derpy, scared.

Diamond Tiara took a deep breath. "We're gonna find out where we are."

Seven tall, lean earth ponies in full metal armor slowed down in front of the three lost travellers, each with a long lance-like spear strapped to their saddle. The pony at the front had a long, thin beard hanging down from his chin, and Diamond immediately noticed his armor and barding was much more polished and decorative than the others, the golden metal shining like a mirror in the desert light, causing her to shield her eyes.

"Hal almuhur yatajawal fi alsihra'?!"

The leader pony pointed at her, and barked something in a gruff voice; even though she'd been expecting it, she still felt a pang of disappointment when she realised she couldn't understand what he said. Whatever it was, he sounded deeply unhappy about it.

"My name is Diamond Tiara," she said, and this time her voice came out a little less confident than she'd hoped. "These are my friends."

"Hal 'ant bkhyr? Daena nahsul ealaa bed alma'!", shouted the leader pony, pointing at her again.

"I'm sorry, we can't understand you," said Trixie, stepping forward. As soon as she moved, two of the new ponies adopted a much more aggressive posture, and drew their spears.

"Min fadlik, nahn faqat nurid musaeadatak! Tueal maeana, naetaqid 'anak qad tahtaj 'iilaa einayat tabiya!"

"I think we startled them," said Trixie, and Diamond shrank into herself a little, before standing up as tall as she could again.

"We're from Equestria, and we're lost. Can you help us? Do you speak Ponish?"

The leader pony looked at her blankly, before he turned to one of his team and started shouting at them, occasionally interrupting to point at Diamond.

"Aetaqid 'anaha mujafafat warubama majnunat bed alshay!"

Trixie and Diamond looked at each other nervously. Whatever that was about, it couldn't be good.

"So, you know I said, like, not to run for it...?", said Diamond, backing up as the strange ponies started advancing towards them in a menacing fashion. The leader pony noticed them backing away, and roared something else at Diamond.

"Nahn nurid faqat lamusaeadatak!", he shouted, and Diamond stumbled as she tried to walk backwards as fast as she could. Trixie stepped in front of her, hiding the filly behind her cloak.

"If you want to get to her, you'll have to get through the Great and Powerful Trixie," she shouted, and grabbed a smoke bomb from one of her cloak's hidden pockets. There was a BANG, and a flash, and then the whole world was replaced with a cloud of gray smoke.

"Let's go!", shouted Trixie, grabbing Diamond under her hoof and dashing off in a random direction... only to find herself face-to-face with two angry foreign ponies, pointing their spears at her as she skidded to a halt on the sand.

"Well, it was worth a try," said Trixie, as she sat down on the ground and lifted her forelegs above her head in what she hoped would be a universally recognised sign of surrender. Diamond fell to the floor, and then immediately did the same. Derpy, still flapping above them, copied their gesture.

"Aistahabahum 'iilaa markaz alshurtati. Yumkinuna 'iirsal kalimat 'iilaa aldawqat wanaraa ma yajibu alqiam bih baed dhalik!", shouted the leader pony, and before any of the three could react, they found themselves surrounded by angry ponies brandishing spears, gesturing to them that they wanted them to get up and walk with them.

"Well, this is just great," said Trixie, as one of the foreign ponies shoved her with a forehoof. "Hey! Leave her alone," she shouted, as she saw another pony grab hold of one of Derpy's hooves and pull the pegasus down to the ground.

"It's OK, Trixie," said Derpy, quietly, as the pony let go of her, and she found her footing on the ground. "A mean pony is just a nice pony who lost their way."

"You're still being all chirpy when this is happening?", snorted Diamond, only to recoil slightly when the pony next to her flinched at her raised voice and gave her a snarling glare.

"I don't like it," said Derpy, looking at the floor. "I want to go home. But... I think we didn't go to Tartarus like you said. And that's good!"

Diamond shook her head, as the pony prodded her along some more. The one hope, she thought, is that right now, my father and Princess Twilight are putting together the finest rescue team in Equestria. Everything is going to be OK...


~~ Five minutes earlier ~~

Captain Abdul of Her Grace's Maretonian Ducal Guard was feeling pretty annoyed at having to take this patrol out to investigate some crazy merchant's reports of a tiny, travelling dust storm far away on the coast road, but, well, orders were orders. He wondered how far he'd need to go out into the desert before he could officially classify the mission as a bust, confirm there was nothing there, and head back into town. Again. As his squad galloped along, he wondered why the Commander made them investigate every single report by every traveller with a hoof-smudge on his telescope.

"Captain?" said Corporal Fatima, and pointed her hoof up the road. Sure as hay, there was a tiny cloud on the road. Captain Abdul raised a hoof, ordering his ponies to stop.

"Spyglass," said the Captain, and took the telescope from his corporal. Looking down the road, he could clearly make out a pegasus flapping her wings above two ponies walking on the ground, a filly and a mare in a starry-patterned cloak.

"Travelers. They look like they're in trouble. Come on," said the Captain, and pumped his hoof in the air; at the signal, the rest of his team galloped forward down the road to meet the new arrivals.

The Captain slowed when he noticed the mare was a unicorn, and he made the signal to his men to watch out for magical attacks. He wasn't unduly worried, she looked tired and weak, but being alert to possible surprise attacks helped keep his ponies alive.

He noticed the filly was wearing some sort of... crown... thing. A dignitary from some travelling desert tribe, maybe? But then, what would she be doing traveling out in the middle of the desert like this, with no water, no shelter, and just these two mares for guards?

He noted her weakened condition, and decided to try talking to her in his most respectful Traditional Maretonian Greeting Voice.

"Have you ponies been wandering in the desert?!", he bellowed.

The filly flinched, and said something in a language the Captain had never heard before. He looked at the Corporal, who shook her head.

"Are you alright, miss? Do you need medical assistance?"

The filly didn't answer, but the unicorn mare in the cape stepped forward and started talking in that same weird foreign language; just like in their training, Aziz and Aysha immediately moved into a defensive stance, ready to repel a magical attack. The Captain motioned with his rear hoof for them to hold position for the moment.

We should have brought a translator, he thought to himself.

"Please, we only want to help you! At least come with us to the town, and we can find you a doctor!", he roared, as Traditionally and Respectfully as his vocal cords could manage.

The filly backed away for a moment, and then started talking again, but it was hopeless, the Captain had no idea what she was saying.

"I think they're dehydrated," he said to Corporal Fatima. "And possibly a bit crazy."

He tried to mime to the filly while he spoke, hoping he might make himself understood. "We - only - want - to - help - you!", he shouted, slowly, pointing at her as he said that last word. The strange ponies just looked at each other, and started to back away.

Suddenly, the unicorn mare started shouting at him. Before he could react, she grabbed at something in her cloak, and there was an explosion of smoke that blinded the whole party.

"Damn it!", yelled the Captain. "Apprehend them, now! Non-lethally!"

Aysha and Aziz moved instantly, swiftly charging left and right around the smoke cloud, flanking the new ponies from the rear; as the smoke cleared, they held the new arrivals at spearpoint, waiting to see if they tried anything else stupid. Luckily, it didn't seem like it; the mare dropped to her rear legs and held up her forelegs in what the Captain assumed was a gesture of submission. Aziz looked at the Captain, who looked back with some relief and nodded.

"What now, Captain?", asked Corporal Fatima, still holding her spear towards the newcomers.

"Let's take them to the police station," said the Captain. "We can send word to the Duchess, and see what we're supposed to do next."

Author's Note:

It's supposed to be Arabic, albeit a machine-generated transcription of Arabic that was likely not so great in the first place, so... if anyone reading this actually does speak Arabic, all I can say is, I'm really sorry for (probably) completely butchering the language!