• Published 16th Aug 2019
  • 523 Views, 19 Comments

The Pros and Cons of Working Over Time - meanderingNekomata



Minuette and Limestone Pie are bound by the Choosing Stone.

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Of Stones and Choices

Across the horizon, all that could be seen were rock formations and clouds for several miles. Off in the distance, silhouetted against dark and dreary clouds, old buildings belonging to rock farms and refineries sat neighboring vast tracts of craggy landscape pockmarked on occasion by canyons, gorges, pits, and ditches. Off to the west, low mountain ranges scraped at the skies while light mist hovered low over the peaks. Here and there the land was dotted with mine carts sitting atop rails which led deep into the crystal mines within the mountains’ vast cave systems.

In the midst of all this stood the Pie Family Rock Farm, isolated from the other farms only by acres of land owned by Igneous Rock and ponies like him. Across these acres, ponies traveled to and fro, planting, harvesting, and tending to various rock formations while others set off for the crystal mines drawing wagons or returned with wagons full of gems and minerals.

Limestone was working in the southern field, harvesting the recent crop of geodes with patience and silence she rarely exhibited outside of her work. She made her way slowly across the southern fields, shattering a geode with a firm swing of a pickaxe and separating the shards into their respective baskets. Across the field her younger sister Marble worked at a slower, albeit less deliberate pace.

What her sister lacked in drive and stamina, Limestone made up for with determination, stubbornness, ambition, and beyond that, she took pride in her work. Sure, the tasks around the farm could be pretty mindless, but they kept her from focusing too much on anything else. Every thought was dedicated to whatever needed doing next. It was during this mental exercise that a bright blue hoof landed on her shoulder, wrenching her from her thoughts and triggering her fight or flight reflex. It was only the shriek of the pony in question that stayed Limestone’s pickaxe inches from her muzzle.

She set the tool aside and glared at the unicorn mare, all the while looking her up and down. The pony had clean cyan fur accompanied by a two-tone mane in a darker shade of blue and off-white. Her eyes shared the dark blue hue of her mane and most startling of all the sight of her was giving Limestone a weird feeling in the pit of her stomach.

“You shouldn’t sneak up on me.” she grumbled. “Lemme guess, you’re the new representative here to pick up the Manehattan shipment, right? You’ll need to speak with my old man over in the eastern fields, he’ll…”

The mare ceased her thousand yard stare, shook her head and crossed her hooves, “No no no, you’ve got the wrong pony. My name’s Minuette, I’m here with the Canterlot Times. I’m here to take photos for an article my coworker’s writing about the revolution of industry in Equestria what with the new methods of rock farming and the implementation of various techniques to harness various minerals and gemstones across many industries from fashion to construc… and I’ve totally lost you, haven’t I?”

Limestone blinked at Minuette. “No, I get it, just, what’s that got to do with me? My father could probably answer any questions your friend has. We don’t have anything against ponies taking pictures of the place. I have geodes to harvest and shards to plant along with several shipments to load and a shed to fix up before sundown. As much as I’d love to help out, I have work to do.” And just like that, she picked up her pickaxe and turned back to her work.

“Okay, I’ll just let you get back to it.” She heard the receding hoofsteps of the mare for a moment, then they stopped. Once again, the mare spoke, this time in a slightly less energetic, softer voice, “Think maybe once you’re done, you can show me around? I mean, it's hard to know what to snap photos of without the somepony who can tell me heads from tails in this place, y’know?”

Limestone sighed. A beat. Two.

“Well, if you’re not up for it, I guess I could just…”

“I’ll do it.” the dark gray mare replied in her gravelly tone. “If you’re willing to stick around here a few hours, I’ll be with you when I’m finished. In the meantime, you can get some pictures of the farm in operation.”

“Okay!” Minuette replied in her usual bright, cheery manner. “By the way, I never did get your name.”

“Limestone, Limestone Pie.” she grunted, then smashed a geode.

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The next few hours passed relatively quickly with Minuette cataloging life on the farm and Limestone stopping to explain what she and Marble were doing when Minuette seemed confused. The sun was down by the time Limestone trotted over to where Minuette sat, scrolling through her images on the digital camera. The wind had shifted and her mane was starting to blow into her face.

The mare looked up from her camera and upon spotting her, waving with a smile that spread all the way from one end of her muzzle to the other before attempting once again to blow the hair from her face. Limestone was surprised to find herself tempted to return the gesture. There was something about this mare, she decided. For some reason,she found that she didn’t want to say anything that might push her away. It was a strange sensation, but not an unpleasant one. Still, she fought it for reasons she couldn’t quite explain even to herself and made her way stoically over.

“Hey! So, Limestone, I’ve been thinking,” Minuette began, “I’ve got enough shots of work around the farm, but I’d still like something to really wow the readers, y’know? I know I’m just the photographer and all, but I wanna show them something beautiful they can’t see back in Canterlot. You don’t happen to have any kind of romantic view or some cultural relic I could catch their eye with, do ya? Y’know… maybe something with a story I can share with the writer to give the story some more pizazz? I’m not asking for too much am I? Cuz I can totally back off if I’m being unrealistic.”

“Well, there’s really not much. There’s Holder’s Boulder, but that’s more a family heirloom and I don’t like letting non-family members near it... there… is the Choosing Stone if you’re interested in seeing that. B-but don’t get the wrong idea, it’s not like I’m asking you to see it with me, or anything. Just, it’s the closest place I can think of besides the gem caves and it’s starting to get late.”

Minuette gave her a quizzical look as her cheeks burned a darker hue. “What’s the Choosing Stone?”

“You really wanna know?”

“Totally, I wouldn’t have asked otherwise. Show me! Oh, and I’d love to hear the story of this thing.”

Limestone groaned, then began to trot further south. “Okay, fine. The way my parents tell it, there was once a time when it wasn’t so easy to keep anypony out here to work the farms. Fillies, mares, colts, and stallions would constantly go stir crazy and run off searching for love and livelihood in the big city. A few farms shut down, most that didn’t were forced to hire outside help, and with less families moving out here and more moving away it became a bit of a cycle. Land became pretty cheap for awhile, which is part of the reason the Pie Family Farm grew as much as it did. Anyway, one day, one of our ancestors stumbled upon a magic stone with the power to show a pony their destined partner. He called it the Choosing Stone, bought the land on which it stood, and made it open to any and all. Ever since, it has boosted the morale around here so that most of the ponies that settle here don’t have to worry about the possibility of being alone for the rest of their lives just because they live out in the middle of nowhere. Not that I really need the motivation to stick around. I’ve got my family and besides, I’m gonna run this place one day.”

“So, you don’t have any big romantic plans? No fantasies of a somepony to sweep you off your hooves?” Minuette mock swooned, cocking an eyebrow as she nudged the rock pony in the side.

She looked away. “I-I n-never said that, maybe I don’t wanna be swept off my hooves or anything like that. Still, I… don’t focus on it. Sure, Maud’s got herself a special somepony and that’s good for her, but me? I can’t really afford to run off like her or Pinkie. This is my life, and I sure as Tartarus don’t plan on letting some other family take the Pie Rock Farm from me if I get matched with somepony around here.”

“And if you did find out your soulmate? Would you really just ignore them if they didn’t fit with your life here?”

Trotting a bit quicker, she overtook the cyan pony and said, “C-come on, it’s j-just up ahead.”

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The mares trotted past a field of amethyst geodes into a clear patch of land at the edge of a deep and imposing gorge. In the center of their field of vision, a few feet from the edge of a jagged promontory, a large stone stood tall and imposing against the granite fields, starry void, and the chasm beyond. The moon seemed to silhouette the oblong stone perfectly as Minuette stared up at it in wonder. “So…”

Minuette blinked several times, turned around and asked, “how does it work?”

A gravelly voice called out from several feet away, “You just touch it, I think? Maybe ask who your destined pony is in your head? I dunno, they never really explained it, but then I never really asked. Why?”

“And here I thought I’d have to yodel or something.” She said, giving Limestone what she hoped came off as a sly grin and not constipation. The blue mare cantered over and around the stone several times. She took a deep breath in, then out, and put a shaky hoof to the cool, smooth surface of the stone.

For a second, nothing happened. Then, as she thought out her question, she felt a warmth flooding the stone, travelling through her from her fetlock to where her cutie mark sat on her flank. In the next moment she looked up at the tip of the oblong rock, there it was swirling around it like a dog chasing its own tail. She heard a gasp behind her. Shortly after, the image of an hourglass was chased by the image of a lime hovering over two small pale stones.

Both mares remained silent for a beat. Two. Three. As soon as Minuette regained her faculties, her hooves flew to her camera and she snapped a photo of the scene before them. Sure enough, the image in the camera’s display reflected exactly what she saw before her.

She’d never really put much stock in fate. Given her cutie mark, her abilities, she never thought destiny had anything set in stone for her. But here it was, writing on the wall, or the rock, rather.Then she heard the voice echoed inside her head, soft and feminine.

Minuette and Limestone Pie, thou art bound to each other in destiny and in love. Though it be not yet realized, thou shalt love one another in time. Go forth and do not fear this uncertain ground that you shall yet tread.

With that, the cutie marks vanished from where they had circled the tip of the spire. Looking back, she saw Limestone still behind her, still, silent. “H-hey um… Limestone? Er… I’m not alone, right? I mean uh, you heard that too, right?”

Limestone blinked, then blinked again. “T-Th-this has to be a joke… I can’t be anypony’s special somepony. I… how… what am I supposed to do?” She trotted over and grabbed Minuette by the shoulders, staring deep into her eyes. “You can’t r-really, love me, right? This has to be a dream. I can’t move to the city, I’ve got the farm and my family to take care of, you’ve gotta understand.”

“Hey... hey, hey. Calm down. This doesn’t have to be some huge deal, right?” She brushed a hoof through Limestone’s short light gray mane. The hair was smoother than she first thought. She wondered what conditioner she used. “I mean, I’m not gonna lie, I don’t exactly find you unattractive. I’m single, you’re single, we both have a preference for mares if your butch appearance is anything to go by. No offense, of course, it looks damn good on you! Sure, we don’t exactly know each other but maybe this could be a good thing if we let it. No need to freak out, I mean, unless you actually don’t like me or something. You don’t happen to secretly hate my guts do ya?” Minuette gave Limestone a wry grin, or at least she tried for a wry grin, or was it sly she was going for. Or maybe smug, confident? Whichever one said “I’m totally not out of my depth and know exactly what I’m doing.” She wasn’t quite sure, so she faltered a bit. There was a fair chance she could blame the whole thing on being flustered by the whole series of events, but that would defeat the point and now wasn’t the time for being relatable, so she tried to make it seem intentional.

Limestone started to breathe more evenly. “N-no, I don’t hate you. You seem nice, soft, warm, very forthcoming and open, I don’t really have any reason to doubt what I saw and heard it’s just… I dunno, unexpected. I didn’t exactly plan on this. I mean deep down I always knew this could happen, I just thought I’d have more time. Maybe you’re right, maybe this can be good but won’t it be hard on you? You work and live in Canterlot, right? You probably have friends there, and living on a rock farm’s hard work and… and it’s not like I could leave or visit often.”

Minuette put a hoof to her muzzle and kept it there for a moment. “Shh, look at me, just stop thinking for a second.” When she removed her hoof, she leaned in, closed her eyes, and kissed her. It took several seconds for Limestone’s head to catch up to what was happening, but once it did, she relaxed into the kiss. Her eyes drifted closed with the feel of the other mare’s lips on hers and time stood still. She felt warm, like she was melting but not in a bad way. Her mind drifted on soft clouds as she lost herself in the feeling. And then, all too soon, it ended.

When the two came up for air, Minuette asked, “Soooo, how’s that feel to you?”

The gray mare trembled slightly. “Uhhh, what?”

Minuette stifled a chuckle. “We don’t have to nail everything down right away. Let’s just enjoy the moment. One thing at a time, girl!”

“Right, one thing at a time, okay, yeah, that sounds… good.”

“Y’know, beneath all that rough surface, you can be pretty cute sometimes.”

Limestone groaned, then, “I could take you back to Maud’s room, she’s in Ponyville now and the train’s not coming til’ morning, so…”

“Yeah… yeah, I think I’d like that.” Minuette interrupted, though whether that sentence was going to have an ending beyond “so” was honestly debatable as far as she was concerned, so she didn’t quite consider it as such. Or at the very least she’d been invited to interrupt, there, that had to be it. She swore she was putting way too much thought into all this. But then, maybe this was just her coping mechanism for sudden and inexplicable change. She sighed softly to herself. Deep down, she always knew she should’ve gone for that degree in psychology.

Anyway, for now she just needed to focus on trotting back to the farmhouse and the fact that she had a potential hot marefriend who was also Pinkie’s dependable older sister now that she thought about it. “Wait a minute, back the train up,” she thought “I might be dating Pinkie Pie’s hot older sister!?”

Together the two mares trotted off into the night beyond, unaware of a shadowy figure slowly emerged from behind a large amethyst geode. The mare smiled meekly to herself and brushed her mane back over her left eye before taking a roundabout route back to the house.

Author's Note:

So here's something I wrote based on the fact that I didn't see anyone else writing it, and I wanted it to be a thing. Hopefully some other folks wanted it to be a thing too and enjoy the way I go about making it happen.