• Published 25th Sep 2012
  • 5,651 Views, 123 Comments

Sororal Instincts. - Reptilicus

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Be the lightning in me that strikes relentless.

Celestia's orb of brilliant fire rose slowly over the planet, casting long shadows across the land. It's iridescence sending life deep into the soil, the trees, the animals. Oh to be so grossly incandescent. The currents of ice that flowed through the channels of the mountains and hills soon changed with the colors of the sky. Their white tendrils giving way to the same warmth that the sun felt right to bless the land with. Life stirred in the morning, myriads of beings awakening, and a small few returning to the world of slumber, shunning the light. The empress of the night, Luna, goddess of the moon and empress of the stars had returned to the world of darkness from which she had emerged. Her time to sleep had come, and as the yellow rays pierced through the darkness, the stars themselves shied away. They were content to wait for the sun to finish its rounds. Once time had passed their time would come again, and one by one, they would politely blink themselves back into existence upon the eternal canvas that was ruled in tandem, by the Goddesses of the Cosmic Council.

On this jolly morning, the occupants at Sugar Cube corner were beginning to wake. In particular a cyan pegasus pony with a rainbow-hued mane and tale was desperately trying to wake her pink friend whose hair resembled that of cotton candy. Gentle prodding in the belly had become rough poking in the ribs and finally into rough shaking around the neck. Nothing in the world seemed to wake the slumbering pink baker. In fact it seemed also as if her snores grew louder with each attempt by her friend to break Luna's spell. Rainbow grew frustrated and decided to try one last thing. She placed her forelegs on Pinkie's side and bit down on her friend's fuzzy ear, giving it a harsh yank. Hoping that the sudden sharp pain and movement would finally wake her.

A happy whine escaped the throat of the pink mare, as she subconsciously kicked her hind leg and flicked her tail at her attacker. "Ooh...Dashie." she whispered in a far more sultry tone then was appropriate for this story.

Rainbow let go immediately, her eyes wide as cereal bowls as she leaped back two feet, her wings flaring out. "Oh geez WHAT!"

Pinkies eyes snapped open and she sat up, her pink coat bristling, suddenly realizing the tugging and biting on her ear was not part of a dream. Her normally cheery face contorted into a look of indescribable horror as she realized what she'd uttered aloud. She turned to see Rainbow Dash standing several feet away, her face pale with a look of shock tinged slightly with confusion and a bit of disgust. Pinkie clamped her hooves over her mouth as her face grew red, trying to shrink away. Her blue eyes darted around the room quickly as large droplets of sweat ran down her forehead. Dash sighed, exasperated and embarrassed for her friend and her vices.

"Pinkie. I'm going to walk out the room. I am going to smack my head against the floor until I forget this happened and we will never speak of this again. Ever. Sound good?"

Pinkie nodded quickly, unable to take her hooves off her mouth or look Dash in the face. Dash shook her head and made her way to the bedroom door, eager to escape this incredibly awkward moment.

"You should probably use an alarm clock, pal."

**************************************************************



Downstairs in the bakery, the Cakes were slowly setting up to open the shop for the day. The two middle-aged ponies hoped business would return in droves now that the initial terror of the snowstorm had died down over the last few days. The citizens of Ponyville felt safe enough to peek out their heads from their warm cottages, shops, and refurbished underground dens. Activity was finally returning to the itty-bitty town. And it could not have been timed better. Despite the citizens need to stay inside, public service workers had remained ever vigilante to make the town ready for winter. The mail carriers had delivered mail and packages every day, through wind and rain and sleet and snow. The mayor had gotten several ponies to clear out the snow from the roads and streets. If the town hadn't seemed abandoned due to all the ponies staying inside their homes, the entire place would have looked almost cheery. Like a winter wonderland trapped inside a delicate snowglobe.

"You guys need any help?" Rainbow asked the Cakes as she descended the stairs followed by a still embarrassed Pinkie Pie. Rainbow had on the beanie and scarf that Rarity had made for her, while Pinkie wore a floppy black sweater that was decorated with knitted pictures of lollipops.

"I don't think it's going to matter, dear." Mrs.Cake replied sadly. "Everyone's just going to go to the coffee shoppe down the street to warm up anyway. Or over to the Apple farm for warm pie."

"I never liked coffee much. Too bitter and keeps you awake." Mr.Cake was stirring a mug of hot chocolate with a chiseled rod of mint candy, a look of unhappiness playing about his square jaw.

"Well....what about that?" Pinkie asked quietly, pointing a hoof at the mug. The yellow earth stallion raised an eyebrow and adjusted his striped bow tie. "What about what exactly?" he asked, confused.

"Well why don't we advertise our hot chocolate and cocoa while it's still cold? We can give everyone candy canes and lollipops to stir it with! Oh and those tiny little marshmallows we save for the banana bread! Oh! Oh! And we can let them customize it with cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger and white chocolate chips and mints and whipped cream and sprinkles and candied pears and all the other stuff we keep here for desserts!"

Carrot and Cup Cake both stared at their pink protégé as she grinned winningly at them, hopping up and down in excitement. Their faces broke into huge grins as the brilliance of the idea dawned upon them.

"Oh Pinkie! Have I ever told you how smart you are and how proud I am of you?" Mrs.Cake said as she gave Pinkie a warm hug.

"Yes, many times!" Pinkie replied with a giggle.

"So where are you two nutters off to, anyway?" asked Mr.Cake as he began pulling out bags of candy from one of the cabinets.

"I'm gonna try to see if I can rescue some of Scootaloo's belongings from where I found her in the first place. They were sinking into the snow when I last saw them." Rainbow replied.

Mrs.Cake walked up to Rainbow Dash and Pinkie. A motherly smile on her blue coat.

"Would you two mind if we let Scootaloo test some of the cocoa after she wakes up?"

"She'd probably love it!" squealed Pinkie as she and Dash exited the establishment and ran out into the white expanse of snow outside.

***********************************************


It seemed like a century had passed when Rainbow had last gotten to spread her wings and fly uninhibited through the air, even if in reality it'd only been a few days. She cartwheeled and spun laughing aloud to herself as the cold wind passed through her feathers and across her body, egging her to move even quicker. The beloved scarf she wore fluttered wildly around as it was buffeted by the currents of cold air. Pinkie ran through the streets of Ponyville giggling madly to herself as she tried to keep sight of her friend. Pinkie was not as powerful or fast as Applejack or Rainbow, but what she lacked in speed she made up for in sheer agility and boundless energy. She leaped from the street, to the top of a wagon, to the roof of a house, skipping happily across it and landing back on the slick street in moments, not even stopping to admire what she had just pulled off. These sort of feats just came naturally to the pink pony. Whether it was from her joyful spirit or the amount of sweets she ate was anyone's guess.

The two happily made their way through the town. Pinkie would pause on occasion to greet other folks as they went about their day. She knew every pony in town and considered herself the official Welcomer for any visitors. Anybody who came to Ponyville for the first time was usually visited by Pinkie who would greet them with some sort of improvised song and dance and usually a baked treat. True to Mr. and Mrs. Cake's fears, a sizeable crowd was indeed forming at Beanie Browns Cafe, where hot coffee and espresso awaited to warm even the coldest of hooves. The two friends nodded solemnly at each other as they passed by the cafe, continuing onward to the woods.

*************************************************

"Gosh darnit!" Rainbow shouted as she plodded around the forest scowling. "It was RIGHT here."

The two ponies were exploring the edge of the Everfree Forest, looking for any signs of the treehouse that had once stood within it. The trees were buried nearly up to their boughs in the white flakes. It had been almost a half hour of searching and they had yet to turn up a single thing. Rainbow was growing increasingly frustrated and was beginning to pace back and forth over areas they had already dug through, snorting angrily. Pinkie had long since lost interest in the search for things she was unaware of and was busy constructing a lumpy snowpony with candy for eyes.

"What was right here, Dash? All I see is snow and more snow."

"Scootaloo's stuff."

"That's silly! Why would Scootaloo have stuff all the way out here?"

"Because...." Rainbow stopped herself. She was still unsure how exactly to explain Scootaloo's situation to her friends. With a growl she continued her pacing through the snow. Pinkie took notice of her friends upset demeanor and decided the time had come to remedy it. She grabbed the head off the snowpony with her hooves and spun around. The snowpony quietly accepted its demise. It had lived a hard life.

"Hey, grumpy! CATCH!"

Rainbow turned in the direction of the squeal of delight only to see a large blob of white hurtling at her head. Her whole being was accosted by the massive blob of snow that slammed into her face. The two candies within the snowball that had once made up the eyes of the snowpony both flew off in random directions, ricocheting off several trees and scaring a sleeping bird that screeched loudly, poo'd into the snow and panicked, then flew as far as its wings could carry it. There was a moment of silence before Dash spat out a large blob of snow and glared at Pinkie.

"That was a cheap shot, Pinks. You're gonna get it now!" and with that Rainbow opened her wings to their full span, a rather impressive seven feet for such a small pony. She arched her back straining every muscle to flap her feathered limbs as hard as possible, causing a great gust of wind to send Pinkie tumbling into a tree, where a large amount of snow fell off its branches and buried her. Rainbow smiled at her victory as an uneasy silence filled the woods. Perhaps too uneasy. The smile faltered as Rainbow stepped forward.

"Pinkie Pie? You okay, pal?"

The pile of snow on top of Pinkie didn't produce a sound or even move. It was so quiet you could actually hear the water freezing. There are no words in the dictionary to describe aforementioned sound. Rainbow began to dig into the snow to rescue her friend.

"Pinkie you'd better not be hurt. I'm gonna be mad as heck if I have to drag you home." she yelled partly out of fear and partly out of anger, not noticing the small eruption of snow behind her as the pink pony tunneled out of the snow like a mole and readied herself to pounce like a jaguar.

"Ha! Got ya!" Pinkie squealed as she landed on Rainbow's back and pinned her to the ground in a fierce embrace. Rainbow frowned at the knowledge she'd been tricked, but she had a sure-fire way to get the upper hand.

"Is this what you were dreamin' about earlier, Pinks?"

With a speed that most would deem unnatural for a horse of any size, Pinkie had sent herself flying 10 feet into the air, a yelp of absolute horror escaping her throat. She landed several meters away, her whole face turning even pinker. Rainbow was laughing hard enough to be heard back in town.

"Ahahahahah! Oh man! That is the best! You are too easy, Pinkie!"

"That wasn't very funny Rainbow Dash!" Pinkie shouted, puffing her cheeks out in anger. Rainbow fell over from laughing so uproariously. "It totally was very funny." she managed to eek out between guffaws.

"What the heck are you guys doing?" asked a familiar voice.

The two ponies turned to see the scaly creature that had entered the clearing. It was Spike, the juvenile dragon who was a friend of both ponies. A newcomer to the town, Spike had moved into Ponyville along with his caretaker, Twilight Sparkle. He functioned as her assistant and at the same time almost like her son. Even though he was a dragon, he was family, and Twilight had taken care of him with Princess Celestia ever since she had hatched his egg with magic in her youth. He lived with her at the local library, where he and the studious purple unicorn kept track of the town's books. He was very small, even when compared to the little ponies themselves. Twilight often referred to him as a baby, even if at times he seemed even more level-headed than his guardian. It wasn't out of place to see him riding on Twilight's back, jotting notes onto parchment as she chatted about science and spells.

Dragons were considered fearsome unethical creatures in Equestria, often ornery, barbaric, and mean-spirited, but Spike had been raised in a proper household and was, for the most part, very well mannered. His body was covered head to toe with soft purple scales, with much tougher lime green plate-scales running from his chin, down his tummy, and all the way to the end of his spiked tail. Small fish-like fins adorned his cheeks and ran along his spine, and they often wobbled to and fro when he talked.

"Oh heya Spike!" Rainbow called. "We're trying to find some junk buried in the snow. Pinkie isn't helping!"

"I am too!"

"Oh, well hey maybe I can help!" said Spike as he waddled further into the clearing with the two ponies. "I am a dragon after all."

He shot a small flicker of green fire out of his nostril into the air as if to prove a point. His tiny fangs glittered briefly in the sun as he gave a confident grin.

"Could you melt all this, Spike?" asked Rainbow.

"Sure I can. You guys should back up a little tiny bit." And with that Spike reached into his pocket, pulling out a small container of mints. He popped one into his mouth and chewed thoughtfully. If he was going to shoot fire out of his mouth, he wanted to be sure it didn't smell like the fish and gemstones he had eaten that morning.

With a step backward he inhaled a deep breath. Green flames flew from his mouth, arcing through the air before they hit the ground, swirling into a ring of yellow fire. White steam shot out of the inferno in the snow and within a few moments the area had been cleared. Scootaloo's belongings lay on the brown dead grass amongst the shattered remains of what had once been a soggy treehouse. Spike raised an eyebrow as he looked at all the items he considered garbage.

"This means alot to me. Thanks Spike." said Rainbow as she began to shift through the contents on the ground. "What are you doing out in the woods anyway?"

"Twilight got in a bunch of books about Hearths-Warming Eve and has been sorting them all day and wanted me to help. I'm going to go visit Zecora instead. Her magic is much more interesting!"

"And Twilight isn't gonna be upset at you for running off?"

"It's fine if she is. I'm not a baby, she can't keep telling me what to do! Heck I'm almost grown up already!"

"Is that so?" Rainbow raised her eyebrows and grinned at the tiny dragon.

"Yep, check it out." Spike turned around and stood still as if patiently waiting for a response.

"What am I supposed to be looking at here, Spike?"

"See those two little reddish scales? Those are my wings!"

"They look like pimples. Dragon pimples."

"Well they aren't grown in yet, but soon I'll be able to fly around Ponyville!"

"Oh Spike!" Pinkie squealed, "once you can fly we need to have a 'Spike Can Fly Now' party. I bet me and Rarity could make you a cake full of sapphires if you want! Or cupcakes full of rubies! Or a balaclava full of dumortierite!"

"I'd eat anything Rarity makes." Spike replied with a soft faraway look in his eyes.

"You didn't accidentally teleport all that snow to Celestia did you, Spike?" Pinkie asked.

"Aw shucks. I hope not."

And with that he was off, scuttling away on all fours with his spiky tail swinging to and fro, seeming to the world almost like a short chubby purple lizard as he made his way deeper into the Everfree Forest. Pinkie and Rainbow watched him go before turning their full attention to the belongings that lay scattered on the ground, now soaked through from the melted snow. Rainbow set about pushing it into a pile and stuffing it into a saddlebag. Pinkie helped at first but soon found herself drawn to the mysterious planks of wood. It took her only moments to recognize a doorframe, a ladder, and some sort of window. This had been a tiny house at some point. Like a shack or a shed. Had it been in a tree? Had Scootaloo lived inside this ugly thing? Was she.....

Pinkie stopped breathing for a moment as realization hit her. Scootaloo being alone in the snow. Rainbow deflecting questions and looking guilty. The lack of anyone searching for the orange pony. This broken home that lay in heaps under the ice. Scootaloo's angry demeanor when someone did something charitable. That lonely look in her eyes. It was all coming together. Like a big game of dominos, and Pinkie had the ace of hearts, all the checkers, and was crowning her battleship King of Park Avenue. But she didn't feel good about it.

Rainbow noticed Pinkie had grown very quiet as she surveyed the melted mess. It was weird seeing Pinkie be quiet. Normally she and her friends had a hard time getting the pink pony to shut up. Something was clearly bothering her.

"Pinkie, I'm sorry I made fun of you earlier." Rainbow mumbled with a grin. "I mean it's cool that you like me I guess although it's also really creepy but I didn't mean to hurt your feelings or whatever."

"Oh, it's not that." Pinkie whispered. She seemed intent at staring at the remains of the wooden shed.

"What's wrong?"

"Looloo's all alone, isn't she?"

Rainbow's breath caught in her throat. She stood silently for a moment, frowned a bit and nodded. "Yeah."

For a brief moment a new emotion burned its way across the pink pony's facial features. Rainbow had seen Pinkie upset before. She'd seen her depressed. Angry even. But this brief face she made seemed different. For a moment she looked very frightened and upset. It was very strange. Pinkie had literally laughed in the face of danger more times than Dash could count. Heck, Pinkie even had a whole song about laughing at your fears that she had sung far too many times whenever something was scaring her friends. Rainbow gulped a bit, wondering what was going through her friend's head.

"She has no family all?" Pinkies voice had grown very quiet. It had lost that luster that made her sound like she was on the verge of giggling all the time. Without it she sounded almost like the wind itself. She took a few steps back from the wood as if threatened by it.

"They left her, Pinkie." Rainbow replied, trying to hide the anger in her voice. She looked up at the trees, seeking answers. "They just dumped her. Like garbage."

Pinkie closed her eyes and inhaled sharply. Her coat and mane seemed to turn the lightest bit greyer. As if a shadow had suddenly passed overhead that only affected her. But within moments it was over with. She walked back over to where Rainbow stood and began placing the items on the ground into the saddlebag. The two sat in silence until their task was done, then began their trek back Sugarcube Corner.

They said nothing to each other until they passed a small family of griffons that were making their way down the street. Rainbow watched the small grey fluffy griffon chicks shout happily as they darted around their large golden-feathered parents, playing tag. Whatever troubles the griffons had were not affecting them right now. They were simply happy being a family and having each other. A sense of grief and longing washed over Rainbow. She missed that feeling.

"Pinkie when all this is over, I'm going to have to find someone to look after Scootaloo. She's gonna hate me for it but....she can't go back to that forest."

Pinkie bit her lip slightly, not knowing what to say next.

"You could probably do it, Dashie. I bet you'd be great at it." Pinkie gave her friend a sad smile, trying to sound as positive as she could. "She loves you so much."

The words, though innocent and hopeful, cut deep into Rainbow. Instinctively, she tried to hide it. Make a joke of it. Ignore it's implications to the best of her ability. Do the one thing she was good at when it came to things that hurt. So she chuckled loudly and obnoxiously at the notion.

"Nah! She needs to be taken care of by someone who knows what they're doing, Pinkie. I don't qualify!" Rainbow smiled as best she was able as the two ponies continued walking down the street. Pinkie's words, though innocent and hopeful had planted a seed of an idea inside of Rainbow. Deep in the small cracks in her psyche that had been left there ever since she'd stopped talking to her own parents, her old friends, and everyone who had meant something to her in the past when she had called the sky home. And without the cyan mare realizing it, the idea began to grow.

******************************************

"KUSTOM CHOKLAT AND COCO"

Mrs.Cake was not the best speller in Ponyville. Not by a long shot. Public education had only been set up in the last couple of decades and by the time the town had a school, she had been an adult. Her calligraphy skill with a paintbrush, however, was admirable. The misspelled words adorned a pink and yellow checkered cardboard sign that now sat proudly on the roof of Sugarcube Corner. Every letter curled and swirled, each a small piece of art. A lava lamp and a strobe light had been duct taped to the sign, hoping it would help it stand out. There was little doubt that it had indeed worked since at the moment Sugarcube Corner was almost overrun with ponies of all sorts who wanted to try out the Cocoa Bar where ingredients could be mixed or matched in a nice hot drink.

Mr.Cake, while slightly apprehensive at first to 'get out the good stuff' as the first tentative guests had entered, soon threw caution to the wind. Nearly every possible candy, sweet, and baking ingredient now sat in its own wood bowl along the counter, each with a small paper label describing what the content in the bowl was (with appropriate warnings in case of allergies). He was surprised at how some combinations of flavors that would normally sound disgusting, were turning out to be quite popular. Hot Chocolate with glazed orange slices was proving to be a favorite. As was Hot Cocoa with creamy hand-made peanut butter stirred in. For the first time in months, the Cakes needed to bring up a few more tables and unfold a few plastic chairs, just to accommodate the huge crowd. The cash register was literally overflowing with bits, the small copper and silver coins clattering to the ground, where they were almost immediately seized by the baby, Pumpkin Cake. And being a baby, she did the first thing that came natural to her when finding a small foreign object: she tried to eat it.

Scootaloo, after having downed several mugs of cocoa and taken a short nap was now assigned Official Baby Watcher. Her job was to quickly yank anything that Pumpkin Cake picked up out of her eager hooves before she devoured it. It had been a simple job at first, until the small pile of money surrounding Mr.Cake had grown into a veritable mountain. Now it was a constant struggle to keep the baby unicorn from levitating large amounts of money into her maw with small bursts of magic from her horn. Mrs.Cake was returning from Sweet Apple Acres with several large barrels of fresh milk, as the sudden popularity of the bakery had drastically bit into their dairy reserves. It was a difficult job for a short chubby middle-aged blue pony, but she soon found relief as Pinkie and Rainbow arrived back home and rolled the tanks of milk to the back of the bakery. She thanked them both and quickly scooped up Pumpkin, relieving Scootaloo of her duties. And not too soon as the small filly was exhausted from trying to abstain the infant from devouring currency. She quickly ran from the kitchen and up to Pinkie Pie and Rainbow. Rainbow grinned at the small pony who was staring at her with a look of complete adoration. Dash reached forward and tousled her magenta mane.

Pinkie on the other hand was staring at Scootaloo with a mournful expression. She felt so much empathy for the small orange pony. Pinkie had been there. She knew how it felt to have the world turn away. A million thoughts were going through her head, which wasn't out of the ordinary for her, but these thoughts were full of regret and grief. Making ponies smile was pretty much Pinkie's one goal in life and she felt as if she wasn't doing it well enough. Pinkie was a bit impulsive and soon found herself grabbing Scootaloo and holding the filly up in the air with a sad smile.

"Looloo I want you to know we all love you and I'm sorry your family gave you away."

Rainbow cringed and frowned at her friends antics. Scootaloo's ears folded flat against her head as the smile on her face quickly faded. She turned her head to look at Rainbow with a face that screamed 'betrayal'. Rainbow sighed and glared at Pinkie who realized she had said the wrong thing at the wrong time.

"Oh, oopsy! Was I not supposed to know about that?" She blushed slightly and gave Scootaloo a sad look. Rainbow prepared herself to try to find an excuse that would salvage this new faux-pas. But it was Scootaloo who spoke up first.

"It's fine." she grumbled. Her lavender eyes looking away from Rainbow and down to the floor, filled with shame. "Everyone's going to figure out I'm useless eventually."

A small pang of anger welled up inside of Rainbow and with quick reflexes she had grabbed Scootaloo out of Pinkie's embrace and held her aloft, staring right into the filly's eyes with a grave expression. Her wings extended and wrapped around the small filly, supporting her back.

"Don't you ever DARE say that, again. You are NOT useless." Rainbow found herself shouting slightly louder than she had wanted to.

"No family. No cutie mark. Can't fly." Scootaloo mumbled quietly. Her eyes squeezed closed and her jaw trembled. Waterworks were incoming, and it was up to Rainbow and Pinkie to barricade for the flood.

"Flying isn't everything...." Pinkie whispered. Scootaloo shot her a dirty look, which seemed to quell the sadness for at least a brief moment of time.

"Then why do I even have wings?"

"Scoot, you're probably just a late bloomer. Fluttershy was like that." Dash replied.

"She was?"

"Oh yeah she was awful at flying. She was a teenager before she even managed to fly back to Cloudsdale after falling off it in the first place. Everyone figured she was a cripple until she came striding into the city one day. I was pretty proud of her, getting over her fear of heights like that."

Scootaloo's glower softened slightly at these words, making a low pouting grunt. Dash nuzzled the filly's forehead and continued.

"Like, heck, you know Surprise, the Wonderbolt? She couldn't fly well until she was an adult, Scoot. She was the first pony in space. She didn't even take a rocket there, she just flew. Now she's the third highest decorated officer in the whole team."

There was a look of admiration on Scootaloo's face as these words sunk in. Her expression changed from one of anger to wonder. Nearly every pegasus respected the Wonderbolts. They were beyond athletes. Almost superheroes in their own way. Rainbow smiled and held the filly close, her voice barely above a whisper.

"Nobody can fly well at first, Scootaloo. Nobody is born knowing what it is they're meant to do. Some spend their whole lives wandering around wondering what it is they are good at. What they don't realize is they're the luckiest ones of all! They can do anything! Be anything! You are so special, Scoot. You can do anything you want! You're not a failure. No, no. You're full of untapped potential. You've been through so much and managed to take care of yourself. I've seen how you defend your friends against snobby bullies. How you don't let your wings slow you down. How you cheered for me even when I ignored you as hard as I could like a doofus. You're not a failure. You're a miracle, squirt."

Rainbow smiled slightly. It was the best speech she'd given since the night she had drank too much of Granny Smith's hard cider and toppled clumsily off the rooftop of Rarity's Carousel Boutique, causing massive property damage. Of course the speech she gave afterwards was slurred and full of swear words, but it was beautiful and honorable nonetheless. Either way, Scootaloo's large eyes were once again filled with joy and she hugged Rainbow, giggling softly.

Pinkie moved closer and decided to chime in as well. Her eyes gazing at the wall.

"Looloo do you remember the story of how I got my cutie mark?"

Scootaloo nodded and backed away from hugging Rainbow, turning her body to face the pink mare. Pinkie's cutie mark tale was one nobody could forget. It was a wild story, and no-one was sure how much truth it contained. How much was fantasy and how much was fact. As a child Pinkie Pie had apparently worked on a rock farm. Whether it was an actual farm or a slang terminology for a mineral mine was anyone's guess. It had been a miserable place to live and when Pinkie had learned her special talent was for throwing parties, represented by the colorful balloons on her flank, the tale had abruptly ended. Pinkie didn't enjoy talking about it, so to see her approach this topic again was something special and quite out of the ordinary. Both Rainbow and Scootaloo pricked their ears up, eager to hear more of this story.

"Well it wasn't long after that when I found myself alone, like you. My mommy and daddy didn't want me either and I decided to run away as far as I could and join the circus. I left my sisters behind and never saw them ever again."

Pinkie shuddered slightly and closed her mouth. Her brows twitched as if she were regretting telling more of her life story. It was a very unpleasant memory. She sniffed apprehensively and glanced up, with a crooked smile.

"But I'm OK now because I have a NEW family. And they love me very very much. Sometimes when things seem like they can't get any worse it's actually good thing. Cause it means things can only get better! It means the worst is over and you made it! Better times are on the way! And things always are better when you have someone to share them with. Nobody deserves to be all alone, Looloo."

She gently reached a hoof forward and placed it on the small filly's back, pushing the child closer to Rainbow, tightening their embrace. Scootaloo snuggled warmly into the cyan body. Rainbow stared at Pinkie with a look of shock, who smiled back in a way that seemed softer than the usual giant wacky grins she usually displayed. Her blue eyes looked right into Rainbow's red ones, grim and serious. She glanced down at the filly and back at Rainbow.

"Nobody."

And with that Pinkie was off, disappearing into the crowd of customers. She reappeared briefly in the kitchen, hugging Mr. and Mrs.Cake tightly. Nobody in the cocoa bar could see it but the pink pony was weeping happily as she held her two adopted parents close. They didn't always understand their protege but they hugged back, nonetheless. The twins crowded around Pinkie's back hooves, hugging her legs, not sure why everyone was hugging but wanting in on the action. The family embrace was quickly broken when a large grey stallion at the counter shouted about how they were running out of chocolate syrup at the bar.

"What's her deal?" Scootaloo asked at the retreating Pinkie, confused at whatever had just occurred.

Rainbow coughed awkwardly and set Scootaloo on the ground.

"Sorry about that, squirt. She's been acting kinda...weird. Even weirder than her normal Pinkie Pie self. But hey guess what I got!"

Rainbow reached into the saddlebag she had dragged in from the cold. With a somewhat gallant tip, she emptied the contents onto the floor. A windup clock rusted and dripping, a soaked grey doll of a horse wearing blue shorts, and with a large clunk, an old blue scooter made of weathered wood and coated with chipped paint.

"YESSSSSS!!!!!!" Scootaloo shouted triumphantly grabbing the scooter with her hooves and immediately peeling out through the bakery, her small orange wings becoming a blur as they buzzed, propelling her quickly through the thirsty crowd. She darted in-between all the larger adults, treating them like large props for stunts. With a flip she landed on a table, grinding along its side before landing back on the floor, twirling in a circle and pushing her way towards the kitchen.

Dash observed the other two items on the floor, feeling strangely....nostalgic? Something about these items was tickling a distant memory locked somewhere deep in the filing cabinet of Dash's subconscious. Folding her legs under her torso, she laid on her stomach, her eyes narrowed, thinking hard. This doll and this clock were familiar. Dash knew them, somehow. These items had been near her or within her proximity before they had ended up in the abandoned treehouse Scootaloo had formerly called home. The doll in particular seemed to be of great significance. The memory faded into view as she stared at it and it's polka-dot boxers. Hit in the face? She had been hit in the face before when she was near the doll previously but why. Oh yeah, that was why.

Months prior, Twilight Sparkle had enchanted this doll whom was nicknamed 'Smartie Pants'. Nervous that she had run out of updates on her new living conditions to send to the princess, the purple unicorn had cast a spell on the doll, causing anyone who gazed upon it to become infatuated. Originally it was to simply cause a minor conflict of interest, wherein the unicorn herself would step forward, solve it as diplomatically as possible, and write of her endeavors to Princess Celestia. However the situation had grown violently out of hand, escalating into a mass riot through the town that eventually Celestia, the goddess herself, had to solve. Dash remembered glancing at the doll, wondering why everyone wanted it when Twilight had abruptly hit her in the face, shouting to not look so she too would not be snagged by the enchantment. In retrospect it was pretty funny. Celestia had been ticked off.

The clock remained. Dash felt like she'd seen it before as well. She'd been wearing something....fancy when it happened. That was it! This clock had been in Rarity's house on a day when Dash had been modeling clothes at the Carousel Boutique, where Rarity hemmed highly-regarded dresses for ponies. Not Dash's favorite activity by a long shot. So how had Scootaloo gotten ahold of these two items? Dash had a suspicion she wouldn't like the answer but wanted to hear it from the young filly herself. She scanned the room looking for the orange pony in the crowd. Scootaloo by some sixth sense, was already heading back toward Rainbow, screeching to a stop on the scooters small red tires in front of her idol. She seemed breathlessly happy.

It was amazing how well she rode that thing. Dash smiled wondering if perhaps riding on the scooter would be the filly's special talent. But for now there was a more important thing to attend to.

"Thank you for finding my stuff, Rainbow Dash! You're the best!"

"Ha! Well you're very welcome, I guess. But uh, Scootaloo. This doll used to belong to Twilight Sparkle and Spike. And I'm pretty sure this clock used to be Rarity's. So....? How'd you get these?"

"Oh um." Scootaloo looked at the ground. "Well Big Mac had the doll for a while and after the spell wore off he kept it in one of the storage barns. I thought he didn't want to play with it anymore so I kinda....."

"And the clock?"

"Well....one time when I had a sleepover with Sweetie Belle I noticed Rarity had alot of clocks and I needed one to know when to get up for school so...."

"Scoot, you know it's wrong to steal, right?"

Scootaloo looked ready to cry again as she nodded quickly. She knew what she'd done was wrong at the time, but it's not like she'd had any other choice. Rainbow couldn't get upset at that.

"I'm sorry." Scootaloo squeaked.

"Scoot, promise me you won't steal anything ever again."

"What if I get hungry?"

"Where do you go when you're hungry?"

"Well sometimes I take food from the Apple Family's cellar...."

"Aw jeez! Scoot, from now on if you really need something, or are in trouble, you ask me for help. And I will try as hard as I can to get it for you, alright?"

"Alright."

"Where'd you get this scooter from, anyway?"

"I earned it."

"Uh-huh?"

"I helped a big old pony move a bunch of boxes of scooters one day when he had hurt himself. So he let me have one!"

"Really?"

"...."

"You're killin' me here, Scoot. Promise me you won't steal ever EVER again."

"I promise."

It would be another six hours until the massive crowd at the Sugarcube Corner had finally had their fill of dessert and hot chocolate. In their wake they had left wrappers, garbage and several broken chairs. The floor was scuffed from the hooves that had clopped all over it during the rush. Half the supplies in the bakery had been devoured. All the milk had been drank and there was almost no chocolate. The Cakes had worked nearly eleven hours straight, and were exhausted. It was worth it however as they had made nearly eight times as much in one day then they usually did with a full week of business. Pinkie felt this accomplishment deserved a small party, and not a single pony in the bakery objected.

Luna's radiant sphere of the night rose slowly over the darkening landscape, casting long shadows as it passed. It's glow and refulgence sending life deep into the lakes, the caves, the animals. The high winds that had been warmed now chilled, whitened as the light struck upon them, casting cold to the earth they embraced. Life stirred in the night, myriads of nocturnal beasts knowing their time had come as many others lay to dream and rest, shunning the darkness. Celestia, empress of the light, and goddess of the sun had returned to the world of luster from which she had emerged. Her time to sleep had come, and as the red clouds sank blearily into the purple velvet of the night sky, a new order began. Every star blinked its way back into existence, caressing the moon as they had done for eternities.