• Published 16th Aug 2019
  • 518 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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To Err is Equine

It was another overcast day on the rock farm, and to Limestone, the weather mimicked her mood a little too well. Over the course of the day she’d been distracted on several occasions by thoughts of her marefriend. When she was tilling the new field for quartz geodes, she found her mind wandering to thoughts of their last date. Later, she was working on fixing the axle on a busted cart when she began to wonder about what Minuette was doing right about now. Hours of mindless repetitive tasks took on a different kind of rhythm when she wasn’t always focused on efficiency and what task came next.

She wasn’t sure how to feel about it. On one hoof, she felt frustrated about the perceived loss of efficiency, on the other, she couldn’t really ‘fix’ it. It didn’t register to her as a problem so much as something more natural. As her feelings grew and the distance between them remained, she understood that thoughts like this would pop into her head. Limestone wasn’t a stranger to thinking about others she cared about, but before now the only ones who fit that bill were her family.

Looking back, she hadn’t really made any friends growing up. She had her sisters and her family and that was all she’d thought she needed. The workers her father employed came and went and they only saw other rock farming families at official functions. Those relationships were fundamentally different in Limestone’s eyes growing up.

Workers were at best acquaintances, and while she’d show them proper hospitality when necessary and appreciation for a job well done, they’d change with the seasons, so she never let them get close. The other families of Rockville were their competition. The relationship the Pie had with their competition was businesslike and professional, on occasion, they’d even work together on contracts. Still, Limestone knew there were those who would love nothing more than to hitch their wagon to the Pie family and take over when her parents were gone. She and her sisters were lucky her parents were such strong advocates for the Choosing Stone method of determining a spouse, otherwise they’d have been swarmed by suitors. The very idea made her skin crawl.

The overcast sky became darker as late evening came, with an amber hue coating the sky between the clouds and the craggy rock below. Light glistened off the harvested shards and crystals sitting in their respective carts. At a certain point, it appeared as though the sun were trapped between the clouds and the ground below.

Seeing this scenery brought another thought to Limestone’s mind. She wanted to share this with Minuette someday. Her heart sank as she considered once more, the logistics of their situations. It was too much for her to ask Minuette to leave her life for this. It was too much to give this up for love or romance, but she knew someday they’d both have to choose. The Choosing Stone was never wrong, and it could be years in the future, maybe even decades, but at some point it would happen. She only hoped she could be ready for whatever happened when that time came.

“Live in the moment,” she reminded herself aloud, then, remembering what Minuette said that first night, continued, “one thing at a time.” With that mantra in mind, she could banish the sad thoughts in her mind for another day and focus on enjoying what she had now.

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It had been several days since Limestone’s date with Minuette, and Marble hadn’t been able to get much out of her sister. Granted, that night she’d only asked things like “How was your date?” and “Did Minuette like the play?” and “Did you two plan another date?”, but Limestone must have known she wanted more than vague half-answers in a somber tone. Now, watching her sister stare out over the horizon at the evening sky, she decided enough was enough. This wasn’t her sister, and since she wasn’t willing to talk about it on her own, she’d need to take some drastic measures to snap her out of this funk. She felt like she needed to show her sister this relationship business was not something she should run from.

So, with all the courage she could muster, she called out to her elder sister. “Hey, Limestone?”

Limestone blinked, not used to having her sister call her by her full surname when she wasn’t being completely serious. “What is it?” she asked, turning to face her, meeting her eyes, and making it clear Marble had her undivided attention.

“Come with me, there’s something I want to show you.” she said, before trotting off in the other direction.

Her normally stern sister blinked, confused, but followed behind at a steady pace. “Hey, is something wrong? You’re starting to freak me out.”

Marble only continued to trot forward, not turning back as she said, “Not with me, I just feel like seeing this will help you.”

The two continued in silence for a while, and eventually they found themselves in the amethyst geode fields. The younger sister knew her elder had to have picked up on what was going on by now. There was only one thing of importance in this direction. Still, the two said nothing. Marble took this time to steel herself for the moment to come, the event she and her sister had put off for as long as they could help it.

Finally, Limestone broke the silence, and it was like a dam had burst, “Are you sure you’re ready for this, Marble? I know I wasn’t when it happened for me. We can still head back, finish up today’s work, and go home. You said this was to help me, but shouldn’t you come here for yourself on your own time? There’s no need to rush.”

It was hard for Marble to go against those words. In any other circumstances she might’ve agreed, but she was afraid of what would happen if she didn’t do this now. After all Limestone was prepared to sacrifice for her and for their family, how could she not be willing to make such a small sacrifice to show her sister she didn’t have to be afraid of love? Instead, she simply said, “It’s okay, Lime. You don’t have to be alone in this anymore. We can face it together.”

With that, Marble approached the Choosing Stone in all its imposing glory and rested a hoof on the cool, smooth surface and thought about her question. Then, something unexpected happened. A blast of pure magical force radiated outward across the sky, giving off a purple glow and nearly knocking the younger sister over. But she was a Pie, even if she was seen as the most timid and shy, she could stand her ground when it mattered.

Then, when the shockwaves subsided, the two sisters looked up to the top of the Choosing Stone. There, Marble’s cutie mark danced and swirled in circles, waiting for its partner. Several minutes passed with no changes, Limestone trotted towards her sister, prepared to give her comfort if she needed it. The younger sibling simply watched her mark in its solo dance around the tip of the ancient artifact. She didn’t know what to think, wasn’t sure whether she’d failed or been interrupted by some magical event.

In the distance, a bright red blur appeared over the horizon. Over the course of several seconds, it raced towards the Choosing Stone, spiraling around it in several high speed ellipses before settling into a proper orbit with Marble’s three polished stones. The two looked on in surprise and wonder. The other mark depicted a sun, like the cutie mark of the former Princess Celestia at first glance, but as they took in the details, they noticed the mark was split between red and yellow coloration on the rays, and had the opposite coloration in the center, where red and yellow took up different sides in darker hues.

Before Limestone or Marble could comprehend what this meant, everything went still and time seemed to freeze. When all was still, Marble heard a soft, feminine voice echo in her head.

Marble Pie, your destined partner straddles the line betwixt worlds, she is as the shimmering light born of the setting sun, alas, her star has come to ground for a time. Seek her, thou shalt in the realm of Harmony, in the town where her tree has laid down roots, but if thou shouldst not act with swiftness, she may ascend once more, and many shall the moons be before thine fates align in time. Two paths, a choice is made, shall two ascend, or two remain.

Then, the two cutie marks faded away, time seemed to resume its flow as the sounds of the rock farm returned. Marble turned to her sister and asked, “Uh, sis? Did you hear a voice when you and Minuette…?”

“Yes, why? What did it tell you? Did the stone give a name?”

“N-No, but it gave hints, and err, apparently I don’t have much time if I’m gonna find her anytime soon. D-do you think you can help? I-I mean you’re already going through a lot right now, and I know that, but I...”

This was what she'd been trying to show her. The message behind Marble's request was clear, if she could move forward like this in spite of all her fears and insecurities and take initiative, Limestone could face her fears and talk about them instead of running and hiding them away. Or at least she could let her sister in on what was bothering her.

“What did the stone tell you, word for word?” Limestone interjected. She reached into her saddlebags for an eraserless graphite pencil and clipboard of paper she’d brought with her to take stock of their progress on outstanding orders, flipping over one of the forms so she could write as her sister dictated.

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Starlight looked over the scene before her in abject horror as she lowered her Shield and Silence spells. The components of the portal were strewn about the room, some had been flung with enough force to lodge themselves in bookshelves and the walls. The duplicate of the exchange journal she’d made as a substitute catalyst so that Twilight could write to Sunset with the portal in use lay on the ground in tatters, and Sunset Shimmer herself lay unconscious behind her in a heap.

Thinking back, it had been an idiotic move to try to send Tirek through the portal wearing an amulet of magic absorption. The area of effect may have been relatively small and focused on him, but even that five hoof radius was enough to disrupt the magic field of the portal. The wards against magical interference on the entrance had been enough to allow him entry, but as soon as he was in… well, that was a problem for future Starlight to handle. For the time being, she wasn’t even sure if Tirek could’ve survived a portal collapse mid-transit, and before thinking about how she might have totally failed her mentor and ruler by accidentally murdering the villain she was supposed to reform, she had to deal with the more immediate issue of Sunset Shimmer stuck on this side of the portal.

As if on cue, she heard some stumbling behind her. It seemed Sunset was still adjusting to her pony body again, and the magical sonic boom had to be disorienting even with the Silence spell Starlight cast as soon as she understood what was happening. She trotted over and helped Sunset to her hooves. Moments later, she heard the pony mumble something under her breath. “What was that, Sunset?” Starlight asked.

“WHERE THE FUCK AM I!? WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO ME!?” she shrieked, then she turned to face Starlight more directly, and stared for a moment before saying, “Wait, how the fuck do you know my name?”

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-Several minutes prior

Sunset and Pinkie had just arrived at their destination, the portal to Equestria housed in a statue which represented their school mascot, the Wondercolt, whatever a wondercolt was. In Sunset’s mind, it conjured the image of a young male horse who was wonderful or wonderous for some reason or another. Still, it was catchy, and easy to make cheers and songs about, so she wasn’t really complaining. Especially when their competition’s mascot was called a Shadowbolt, which only made her think of some dark streak of lightning.

“Are you sure I should go tell her in person? I have the journal right here, I could still write to her about it later.” Sunset gave Pinkie a pleading look.

“Oh, please, I get the sense that you’re supposed to go there anyway. I think…” Pinkie’s leg wobbled three times, and she scratched at her ear. “Or maybe not you,” she said, pointing to someone approaching in a leather jacket and studded jeans with a motorcycle helmet under one arm.

Sunset eyed the stranger with interest as they… as she approached. As soon as she could see her face, she paled. They looked exactly the same aside from some gauges in her ears, her outfit, and the fact that her hair was tied back in a ponytail.

She spoke first, “Hey kid, what’s your name?”

“Sunset Shimmer, who’s asking?” Sunset replied warily.

“No, that’s my name, gimme your real name, ya fuckin’ imposter! Y’know, it’s not good to go around taking folks place just cuz they ain’t around.”

There was a dangerous tone to the way her double said that and she didn’t like it, suddenly the portal seemed a lot more appealing. Pinkie seemed nonplussed, commentating cheerfully, “Ooooh! Drama! Sunset, we just gotta hear her dark backstory!”

Hoping to put this problem on hold until she got back, she headed for the portal.

Her double ignored Pinkie and moved between her and the statue. “Hey! Where you goin’ in such a hurry? Think this is some kinda fuckin’ joke?” she pushed Sunset hard.

Sunset was tired, she was stressed out, and somehow, this persistent double had managed to get to her. So, running more on instinct than reason, she did the first thing that came to mind. She pushed back. For a moment, she saw flashes of memory, a picture of Principal Celestia in a white dress next to some man in a tuxedo, an argument between the two, her double crying behind a convenience store, a shabby apartment. The instant her hands parted from the double’s stomach, the scene before her returned. Her double tumbled backwards through the portal. The motorcycle helmet falling out of her grasp and bouncing slightly on the floor before rolling out of sight.

From there, everything went so fast. Sunset tried to reach out to grab her double, but she was already gone. She tried to run through the portal after her but her legs flew out from under her as Pinkie tackled her to the ground and shoved the motorcycle helmet over her head and blocked her own ears. A second passed, two, Sunset was about to ask Pinkie what was going on when she heard the dull roar as the statue seemed to shatter outwards from the portal side. Looking up, she saw a haggard older man with bright red skin in a business suit with a shining blue amulet hanging from his neck.

Surveying the scene around him, he reached a hand down to help the two girls up. “My name is Tirek,” he said, “I suppose you girls are the welcoming committee.”

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It had been a rough day for human Sunset Shimmer (Author’s note: Let’s call her Sunny for now). She’d been kicked out by her landlord because she hadn’t gotten the pay raise she’d been hoping for when the last band she got signed to the record label she scouted for wasn’t the breakout success she’d expected them to be. Worse than that, they broke up less than a week into recording due to personal issues.

She didn’t scout for a big label either, so paying to pursue lawsuits against bands that broke contract was difficult to fit within the budget. As a result, her pay took a hit instead, thus she was unable to make rent and out on her own again. She just barely had enough to cover her therapy sessions and food for the month with a little to spare.

Sunny looked out at the high school campus her mother ran and thought about what her shrink said during their last session. He’d brought up that going to see her and talk things over might be good for her emotional recovery. She’d laughed in his face, her mother hadn’t reached out since she stopped coming to school, no way she’d wanna be a mother to her kid now.

As she looked at the campus, something caught her eye. A girl with bright red and yellow hair was walking next to a pink girl with poofy pink curls. The first girl turned to face her as she approached, carrying her helmet for a bit of intimidation factor, you never knew with teenagers. Sure enough, the yellow girl had stolen her look.

Well, not entirely, but enough to take her place at Canterlot High. Her head began swimming with questions, had she taken her place? Was it her fault her mother never called, or was this some sick joke on her mother’s part? The fuck was her problem? Where did she get off stealing her identity? Anger welled up within her.

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Sunny was talking to a purple talking horse with a horn. She was a yellow talking horse with a horn. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, time suddenly stopped. In the time she took to try to calm down, another voice started talking directly into her head. It sounded calm and soothing, and she felt herself relax as though nothing else mattered in this moment.

Sunset Shimmer, stranded, though thou art, it should please thee to know that thine travels be not in vain. Love awaits on a string of destiny hidden within a pie of marble. In a heart of stone thy shall find succor, in a bed of granite shouldst thou find warmth. Return alone, thou might to the realm beyond reach, but behind, thine heart shall remain until the time of thy return.

Then the world around began to move again. The pony beside her said, “I’m Starlight Glimmer, don’t you remember? I didn’t think I was that forgettable. And you’re in Ponyville, Equestria. Or, more specifically, Princess Twilight’s old castle.”

Sunny only returned a vacant stare. “Princess who?” she asked, dumbfounded, “Ponywhere?”

Starlight shrugged and shook her head. Sunny had no way of knowing what was going through her mind. At last, she said simply, “This is gonna take a while, c’mon, let’s go somewhere more comfortable and have a cup of hot cocoa. That always calms me down.”

The once yellow human turned orange unicorn sighed. “Sure, I guess that makes as much sense as anything else right now. Lead the way.”

Author's Note:

Hey, I managed to get this out within a month, give or take a couple days. It's not exactly edited as much as I'd like, if I had to say, I'd call this draft 1.5 maybe. So if you notice anything wonky, let me know. Hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Also, for those who don't read my blogs or reading it before I've written the blog about this, I intend to split off side stories into their own stories from this point on once they've been properly established. It's a bit of an experiment, but it seems like the way to go from here. There will still be interactions between Minuette and Lemon and all the others, but it's gonna be more overlap. Expect more exclusive focus on Minuette and Limestone from here on out.