• Published 28th Nov 2023
  • 975 Views, 57 Comments

All Day, Everyday. - Penanka72



Follow the journey of a little girl who takes her football to the next level!

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Chapter 7 - Poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke.

“‘Ottar is driving with the ball masterfully, the game is tied 1-1 and The Seagulls look to attack in the final minutes of extra time…’”









I remember that day as if it was yesterday…









“‘He got passed Applejack with an outrageous faint, cutting through the midfield!…’”









The day I died as a hoofball player…










“‘Ottar is through on goal!…’”








I didn’t mean too…








“‘He goes to shoot!…’”









I panicked…










“‘Oh no…’”










I only wanted to help the team…










“‘Oh no no no no no…’”










I’d sacrifice my wings to turn back time…










“‘Ottar has gone down…’”


























“‘He’s holding his knee…’”


































“‘It looks bad, really bad ladies and gentlecolts…’”






















I’m so, so sorry… Ottar…






















Perched upon a hill, the pegasus sat beneath the sheltering branches of an apple tree, embracing her legs as if cradling her own existence. In this secluded spot, hidden within the shadowy embrace of the tree, the pegasus remained unseen by the passing eyes, her silent presence a mere observer amidst the luminous glow emanating from the pitch below. Solitude was the pegasus’s constant companion, a familiar state in this very spot where she sought solace, surrounded solely by her thoughts and memories. As the players engaged in their training, the pegasus's countenance bore a deep frown, an expression that seemed to weigh heavily upon her.

In the pegasus’s grasp, she clutched a photograph, a treasured memento of a time gone by. In the image, the pegasus stood side by side with a younger Applejack, their arms draped affectionately over each other's shoulders as they posed for a team picture, captured in a moment frozen in time. Reluctantly, the pegasus admitted to herself that she missed this place, yearning for the familiar scent of apples permeating the air, the gentle caress of the wind against her fur, and the unwavering stability of the night as it watched over the depths of her soul.

A solitary tear escaped the pegasus's eye, tracing a path along her cheek, leaving behind a glistening streak like the descent down a treacherous cliff into the abyss of crippling depression. The pegasus sniffled, tenderly wiping her cheek, the stain smudging beneath her touch. When was the last time the pegasus had truly felt the warmth of love for the game? The pegasus couldn't say for certain, but deep down, she knew that day marked the end of that cherished connection.

Regret weighed heavily upon the pegasus, filling her heart with a profound ache. Would the pegasus turn back time if given the chance? Without hesitation, the she longed for the opportunity to rewrite her actions, to choose a different path. However, the pegasus understood that no spell or miracle could grant her such a chance; it was an impossibility she had come to accept.

The pegasus's heart yearned for the possibility of forgiveness, envisioning a scenario where she could descend from the hill and offer earnest apologies to the club and the residents of Ponyville. The pegasus rose from her place beneath the tree, taking a tentative step forward. But just as her resolve began to solidify, a wave of regret washed over her, halting her progress. The weight of time-pressed upon her, whispering that it was too late, that the opportunity had slipped through her grasp.

With a frown amidst the pegasus’s desolation, she whispered to herself, "Maybe another tomorrow or the next..." It was a feeble thought, tinged with a sense of resignation. The pegasus turned away, her wings spreading wide as she prepared to take flight into the embrace of the night sky. Though the pegasus’s spirit may have felt diminished, there was a glimmer of determination in her eyes as she propelled herself forward. The pegasus soared through the darkness, her wings carrying her towards an uncertain future, where the possibility of redemption awaited her, even if it felt pathetically out of reach.






Amelia let out a sigh of relief as she gazed around, taking in the scene. The tension that had filled the air after the confrontation with Minuette seemed to have dissipated. She watched as Minuette, the defensive midfielder, chose to distance herself from the rest of the team, opting to stretch alone after slipping into her training gear. However, despite Minuette's attempt to appear nonchalant, Amelia couldn't help but notice the occasional snarl that escaped her lips, a silent reminder of the animosity that lingered between them.

Shaking off the negative energy, Amelia focused on her warm-up routine. Vinyl, the lively and skilled winger, sent a series of balls her way, each one aimed precisely to challenge her catching ability and prompt her to dive with agility. The controlled shots provided a gradual and effective warm-up, allowing Amelia to find her rhythm and prepare herself mentally and physically for the demanding training session that awaited.

As the minutes ticked by, the training ground began to fill with more and more squad members. They arrived in a myriad of ways, some in tight-knit groups, others in pairs or solitary figures making their way towards the field. Each player had their own distinct aura, a reflection of their individual personality and approach to the beautiful game. Amelia couldn't help but be captivated by the curiosity that danced in their eyes as they caught glimpses of the young filly stationed in front of the goal. Their intrigue was palpable as they bore witness to her incredible saves, her determination and skill leaving an indelible impression on even the seasoned goalkeeper of the Toffee's team. For a brief moment, time seemed to stand still as the veteran paused, momentarily mesmerised by Amelia's abilities.

But it wasn't just the players who were captivated by Amelia's warm-up routine. Spectators from all walks of life gathered around the fence, snapping awe-filled pictures and jotting down notes in their flip books. The atmosphere crackled with excitement as news reporters and media personnel jostled for the best vantage point, some even daring to capture videos of the prodigious young talent. Amelia couldn't help but wonder if this was allowed, if the gathering crowd consisted of fans, the media, or a fusion of both. Regardless, their presence only added to the electric anticipation that hung in the air.

As the crowd of players began to disperse to the changing room, only a few individuals remained, their curiosity piqued as they walked towards the changing room. But among the dwindling group, three figures stood out, capturing Amelia's undivided attention. It was the centre-back pairings, Lyra and Bon Bon, accompanied by the very first Toffee player she had the pleasure of meeting, Derpy.

Lyra, exuding confidence with her vibrant green mane and purposeful stride, approached Amelia with a warm smile. Her eyes sparkled with genuine interest, as if she was eager to get to know the young goalkeeper and witness her skills firsthand. Bon Bon followed closely behind, her expression a captivating blend of curiosity and wonder. It was clear that she, too, held a genuine interest in Amelia's abilities and potential.

Among the approaching trio, Amelia's gaze landed on Derpy, the very first Toffee player she had crossed paths with. As their eyes met, a flicker of surprise danced within Derpy's yellow eyes, clearly taken aback by Amelia's presence in this new environment. But beneath the initial shock, there was an unmistakable shimmer of kindness that radiated from Derpy's gaze.

Unable to contain her excitement, Amelia eagerly waved at Derpy, momentarily forgetting about the ball that sailed past her and into the net. The joy that emanated from her was palpable as she greeted her familiar acquaintance.

"Hiya, Derpy!" Amelia's voice resonated with genuine warmth and enthusiasm as she greeted her friend with a bright smile.

Derpy returned the greeting with equal happiness, waving back with a smile that reached her face. "Hello!" she replied cheerfully. However, her characteristic clumsiness seemed to make an appearance as she failed to notice the ball right in front of her. In her next step, she inadvertently stepped on the ball, causing her to lose her balance and tumble forward, landing flat on her face with a thud.

And there she goes…

Derpy looked alright when being helped up by Bon Bon, a flushed look on her face as a few sniggers were heard from the dispersing group from a distance. Amelia walked over to the embarrassed Derpy, nudging her shoulder with a mini punch.

“Watch where you step next time yeah? Can’t have you injured before training, ay?” Amelia teased, making Derpy rub the back of her head with a smile.

“Ooooo, look who we have here! Are you that keeper everypony has been talking about recently? Because I heard that there was a filly, that was a pegasus, that was a goalkeeper, that Applejack took in for one night. When I heard that, I told my girl, Bon Bon the news, and then—” Lyra's voice trailed off with excitement, eager to share the latest gossip.

“Yes, yes, I’m a pegasus that is a goalkeeper… Is that so hard to believe?” Amelia replied, a hint of amusement in her tone.

“Yes.”

“Yeah!”

“Duh!”

“Kinda…” Bon Bon, Lyra, Vinyl, and Derpy chimed in simultaneously, each offering their own perspective in a different way and tone. Their collective response left Amelia deadpan, her expression reflecting a mix of amusement and exasperation. “Should have expected much,” she muttered under her breath, a smile tugging at the corners of her lips at the antics of these ponies.

"I must admit, keeper, you've certainly attracted quite the crowd.” Bon Bon remarked, her voice tinged with surprise. She cast a glance towards the cacophony of flashing cameras positioned behind the fence, a spectacle that made it seem as though The Daily Equestria had mistaken their gathering for a high-profile signing event.

The paparazzi's relentless clicks echoed like the staccato beat of a drum, their lenses focused intently on Amelia, capturing her every move. It was as if the spotlight had been stolen from the stars above and redirected onto the young goalkeeper, casting her as the protagonist in a story that had yet to unfold. Amelia wondered what the headline would be.

Amelia's eyes widened in astonishment, her voice tinged with disbelief. "Is all of this for me? I mean, I know it's not every day you see a pegasus in goal, but is this all really necessary!" Amelia like the attention for sure but, little old Amelia suddenly feeling camera shy, almost as if she were naked. Did she look like a scruff? Did she need to were make up? Does she just smile and wave like a spare one at a wedding? She didn’t know, Amelia had never been on tv or a newspaper before.

"Oi! Get your head in the game, newbie!" Vinyl's voice cut through the air, laced with a playful yet competitive tone. The cameras were watching, and Vinyl was determined to showcase Amelia's abilities. With a mischievous grin, Vinyl bounced the ball off Amelia's head, causing her to turn abruptly.

"Hey!" Amelia whined, instinctively rubbing the side of her head where the impact had landed.

Vinyl, undeterred, continued to push Amelia. "Come on then! This is a warm-up, not a get together. Let's get to it!" Her words were punctuated with a sense of urgency and motivation, urging Amelia to focus and give her all.

And give it her all, Amelia did. She stood there, completely immersed in her Zone, a realm of unwavering focus. Her face became a mask of determination, void of any distractions. With each shot launched by Vinyl, the intensity escalated, as the shots grew wider and more powerful. While a few managed to find their way past Amelia, slipping into the net, others were met with breathtaking saves, ones that demanded her to dive and stretch herself to the limit. In those moments, it was as if she could defy gravity, soaring through the air with grace, almost as if she had sprouted wings.

The flashy saves, the ones that required her to go above and beyond, caught the attention of the cameras. Their shutters clicked relentlessly, capturing the extraordinary athleticism displayed by Amelia.

Vinyl could see how hard Amelia was trying and decided to cheer her on. Every time Amelia made a good move, Vinyl would shout words of support. Although Amelia was grateful for the kind words, she wished Vinyl would stop talking so she could concentrate. It was irritating. Amelia already knew how great she was; she heard it every time she played football back on Earth. So, why should it be any different here?

Vinyl, with her foot confidently placed on the ball, remarked, "You know... You're actually quite impressive for someone as young and small as you. Remind me, how old are you again?"

Amelia, meeting Vinyl's gaze, replied with determination, "I'm 15, but I'll be turning 16 in a few months."

Intrigued, Vinyl continued, "Interesting. So, who taught you the art of being a goalkeeper?"

A proud smile appeared on Amelia's face as she recalled her father's guidance. "It was my dad. He used to be a goalkeeper himself, not a professional, but he taught me some valuable techniques."

Vinyl's curiosity grew even stronger, and she asked. "Why did you choose to be a goalkeeper, Amelia? What made you interested in playing that position?"

Amelia's eyes sparkled with enthusiasm as she shared her story. "It was actually my dad's dream. He always wished for two sons, one to be a striker and the other to be a goalkeeper. Unfortunately, my brother was born first and took on the role of the striker. Then, I came along, a pegasus... destined to be a goalkeeper. I didn't really have a choice, but I never minded. In fact, I find it refreshing being the only pegasus in my position."

Vinyl's face twisted with concern, her brows furrowing as she spoke. Her voice held a genuine worry, evident in the way her words that left her lips. "You know, Amelia, it just doesn't seem right, Amelia. What if you wanted to be something else like a… Dancer, a writer, or a musician? Was there a part of your life where you didn’t want to play hoofball?”

Amelia's expression grew pensive, her brows knitting together as she delved into profound contemplation. Her face became a canvas of intricate thoughts, mirroring the intensity of her emotions. She spoke with determination, using words that painted vivid images in the mind's eye. "Honestly, Vinyl, no… I can’t remember a time where I didn’t want to play hoofball, it’s in my blood, if you know what I mean. I can’t explain it, and I don’t know how else to say it without sounding cheesy but… I just love hoofball.”

Vinyl nodded in understanding, a gentle smile blossoming on her face, as she began to grasp Amelia's perspective more fully.

Suddenly, a whistle rang out, catching everyone's attention and causing them to stop their stretching and warm-ups. Over in the centre of the pitch, Applejack was standing with four others that Amelia didn't recognise. Were they staff? Assistants? Coaches? Owners? Sporting directors? Amelia could go on, but then she noticed everyone, even Vinyl, jogging over to form a circle around Applejack.

Was it some sort of meeting? A drill? Or maybe they were playing duck, duck, goose? It sounded like fun!

"Amelia! Come on!" Vinyl waved, snapping Amelia out of her thoughts. She realised that she wasn't just a spectator in this training session. Excited, Amelia jogged over to join the group. However, before she could make it a few feet, Applejack emerged from the circle and wagged her finger at Amelia, gesturing for her to stay by the goal. Amelia was confused. Was she supposed to come? Or was she supposed to stay? Or was she just standing there like a melon? For now, it seemed like the latter, but she would have preferred to join the circle.

Amelia stayed where she was, a few meters away from the team huddle, playing around with a ball at her feet, doing twists, turns, and a few kick-ups, waiting for the conversation to finish. Little did they know, however, that Amelia was a pegasus with excellent hearing. So when Applejack raised her voice, Amelia could hear what was being said without much trouble. 1-0 to the pegasus!

Applejack's voice boomed through the training ground, ensuring that everypony present could hear her words. "Good evening, y'all! I'm mighty glad to see all of y'all here on time for training." She began, her raised voice commanding attention. "Before we kick that ball around, we got a lot to discuss, starting with our match against The Reds." Applejack paced the inner circle, hands clasped behind her back, her gaze locked on the eyes of her players, assessing their focus.

"We started off sloppy, givin' up an early goal within just five minutes. That ain't acceptable, especially against our biggest rivals when we needed them three points the most." Applejack's tone turned critical as she recalled each play in her mind. "Could've easily been 2-0 down in the first twenty minutes if it weren't for an offside call. We got lucky there." She raised her head, surveying her team.

"But then, we started to find our rhythm, gainin' control of the game. However.” Applejack paused, her expression grave, "I could see they were gettin' under your skin. Frustration was settlin' in, and some of you ended up with yellow cards."

“Well, it wouldn’t be a game if Minuette didn’t get a yellow card, that's for sure.” A male voice, unfamiliar to Amelia, interjected with a teasing remark. The players chuckled, and Minuette, evidently the target of the comment, responded with a retort in her native language, suggesting a potty mouth.

"That's enough.” Applejack commanded, silencing the banter. "The point is, we allowed them to gain momentum 'cause we couldn't keep our cool. Their dirty tactics got to us, and we barely created any chances despite the time we had on the ball. Our emotions cost us the game, leadin' to not just one, but three goals against us. We need a better mindset, more disciplined, to block out the negativity on the pitch. That's the difference between us and some of them high-level teams in the Equestrian League. It's all about mentality!"

Amelia observed the players surrounding Applejack with a keen eye. They leaned in, hanging on to every word, their attention unwavering. There was no sign of boredom or restlessness; instead, a deep respect for their coach was evident in their demeanour. It was a refreshing sight for Amelia, a stark contrast to the amateur team talks she had witnessed in the past. In those instances, blame was tossed around like a game of hot potato, each player deflecting responsibility onto others. It resembled a chaotic conversation between cats and dogs, lacking civility and accountability. But here, in the presence of Applejack and her professional team, a different atmosphere prevailed.

Brother… is this what professional football was like?

Applejack's voice carried a sense of finality as she addressed the team about the recent developments in the transfer market. "Now, let's talk about the business side of things. We received a letter today regarding our bid for Gimmick Rose, the star midfielder from The Blades. We made quite the statement by offering 100,000 bits, setting a new club record. However, I regret to inform you all that The Blades have rejected our offer, claiming that Rose is 'a key player for their project.' So, it seems we won't be seeing Rose in our squad." Applejack delivered the news with a calm and composed demeanour, seemingly unfazed by the setback.

The players let out audible sighs and murmurs, their disappointment palpable. Amidst the collective reaction, Amelia's attention was drawn to Minuette, who stood with a sly grin and crossed arms. Amelia couldn't help but wonder about the connection between Minuette and Gimmick Rose. Were they similar in playing style, both occupying the role of defensive midfielder? Did the club consider bringing in Rose as a replacement for Minuette or as a means to strengthen the team's depth? Or was there something more personal at play, explaining Minuette's intriguing reaction to the failed transfer bid?

“What about other targets? Do we have any news on them?” Amelia's ears perked up as another unfamiliar voice chimed in with a question about potential transfer targets. Curious to hear the response, she listened intently as Applejack provided updates.

"There are indeed a few other targets we've been keeping tabs on.” Applejack responded, acknowledging the query. "However, it's important to note that the negotiations for these deals are still in the early stages. One player we've expressed interest in is Redscia, an academy talent from The Reds Hoofball Club who has been garnering attention with their impressive performances. At the moment, though, no formal talks have been initiated, so it's unlikely that we'll see Redscia wearing our green shirt anytime soon."

Amelia couldn't help but admire Applejack's transparency, freely sharing this information that would typically be kept under wraps until officially announced. It was a refreshing departure from the usual secrecy surrounding transfer negotiations, allowing the players to be kept in the loop and fostering a sense of trust within the team. Honestly, managers back on earth would be reluctant to speak on business behind the scenes in football, giving only vague or no information at all. As José Mourinho once said ‘If I speak, I am in big trouble. In big trouble. And I don't want to be in big trouble.’ Amelia guessed that doesn’t apply in this world though.

"On another note.” Applejack continued, "Raine Days from The Lilywhites has expressed disinterest in joining our club, so we'll be moving on from pursuing that option. However, we're closely monitoring the progress of Night Ray from The Lions, keeping a close eye on their development. And unfortunately, Double Diamond has decided to take his career from The Hammers to The Wanderers, so he won't be joining us either. The only real option we have now is to look for alternatives that meet the requirements of our system.”

“What about her? What is she doing here?” A sudden voice perked up, making Amelia’s ear flicker at the question.

Wait… are they talking about me?”

Amelia's gaze shifted towards the group of players, only to find them all turned towards her with a curious expression. In that instant, a surge of shyness washed over her, causing her heart to race and her palms to grow clammy. The intense scrutiny of the players made her feel exposed, as if every flaw and insecurity was laid bare before them. Time to activate Fluttershy mode!

Applejack wasted no time in approaching Amelia, effortlessly navigating through the circle of players with purpose. As she drew closer, a gentle smile graced Applejack's face, offering reassurance and encouragement to the overwhelmed young filly. The calming presence of Applejack eased Amelia's nerves, prompting her to take a deep breath and follow along.

Feeling the comforting weight of Applejack's hand on her back, Amelia was guided towards the awaiting team. The warmth of the gesture served as a silent instruction to trust in the moment and embrace the unexpected opportunity. As they moved forward together, Applejack's words resonated through the gathering of ponies.

"Everypony! This is Amelia.” Applejack announced, her voice carrying a tone of inclusion and camaraderie. "She is a filly from Ponyville just like the rest of us. Amelia will be joining us for training tonight, so let's welcome her as part of the squad. Any questions?"

Amelia couldn't help but chuckle nervously at the attention, her eyes scanning the group of players towering above her. No one looked like they were going to speak up and ask a question, only murmuring with each other. This was good for Amelia; if any personal questions came her way, she knew she would have to tell a fib, which she knew would come back to bite her in the ass in the future. Amelia didn’t know if telling these ponies about her past was the best idea at the moment, especially if they found out that she was a human from another world who had no clue how she got here or how to get back.

Yeah… the more I think about it now, the more I’m convinced I’m in an isekai anime manga…

Scootaloo's sudden question, "What team did you play for?" sliced through the murmuring crowd like a sharp knife, causing Amelia's heartbeat to stutter and all attention to swiveling back towards her. Scootaloo's intense scrutiny seemed to spear through Amelia, sending an icy shiver racing down her spine and a warm flush creeping up her cheeks. The collective gaze of the group bore into her, their curiosity palpable as they awaited her response.

Taken by surprise, Amelia found herself stumbling over her words, her thoughts scrambling to piece together an adequate reply. She knew that divulging the complete truth of her past would only entangle her further in a web of complications. After a moment of quick deliberation, she opted to share a partial truth, a compromise she hoped would satiate their curiosity without exposing her closely guarded secret.

"I... I was part of a small local team in my previous hometown," Amelia managed to utter, her voice tinged with a hint of apprehension. "It wasn't anything overly competitive, mostly friendly matches and such."

Her response seemed to pacify the group somewhat, the earlier tension in the air dissipated slightly. Her words were mostly truthful. Prior to her tryouts for Everton’s youth academy, Amelia did play for an amateur team back in her hometown on Earth. That's when she was scouted and given the opportunity to try out for Everton. However, she couldn't shake off the nagging worry that this partial revelation might either quench their curiosity or fuel more questions in the future. Amelia sincerely hoped it was the former.

Her momentary relief was short-lived as Scootaloo continued her relentless interrogation. "What was the team's name?" she demanded, her tone brimming with assertiveness.

Amelia gritted her teeth, silently wishing Scootaloo would lay off. She could reveal the true name of her team, but in this reality, that truth would equate to a lie since it was unlikely that Amelia’s former team name existed here. She was caught in a quandary - to lie or to lie.

With a deep breath to steady her nerves, Amelia stuttered out a response, "H-Halewood..."

Scootaloo's eyebrows knitted together in confusion at the unfamiliar name. "Never heard of it.” she confessed, her challenging tone prodding Amelia to provide more information. Amelia's internal voice retorted defiantly; 'Ever heard of minding your own business?'

Under the weight of Scootaloo's skepticism, Amelia felt a hard lump form in her throat. She scrambled for a plausible explanation, her voice betraying her nervousness with a tremor. Now Amelia had no choice but to lie. "Well... I-I don’t expect you to... it's a fairly small team, without much history."

That's sort of true…

Scootaloo's eyes narrowed, her penetrating gaze locked onto Amelia as she leaned in closer. "Oh yeah?" she challenged, disbelief evident in her tone.

Summoning every ounce of courage she had, Amelia met Scootaloo's gaze head-on. "Yeah!" she retorted, attempting to instil as much conviction as she could into her voice. The word echoed around them, a bold counter to Scootaloo's probing questions. Amelia could only hope that her firm declaration was enough to dispel any lingering doubts.

"Why do you want to be a goalkeeper?" A new voice chimed in, the question coming from Lyra. Her hand shot up to accompany her question, her body lagging behind her speedy voice. Unlike the previous inquiries, Lyra's question was not laced with skepticism. Instead, it was marked by pure curiosity and a sugary-sweet enthusiasm. Amelia felt a wave of gratitude towards Lyra for the change in direction.

Rubbing the back of her head, Amelia pondered the question she knew would inevitably be asked time and time again. "My dad was a goalkeeper. I always looked up to him, and fate just took it from there.” Amelia divulged, choosing to keep her response succinct.

"Oooo! Who's your dad? Is he a super famous goalkeeper? Wait! Don't tell me! Is it Flip Flop? No, no, couldn't be him... Or is it Lofty Tail? Ooo, or is it Sound Bite? It has to be Sound Bite, right?" Lyra pressed, her hyperactive energy bringing her face-to-face with Amelia, close enough to make Amelia go cross-eyed. "If not, it has to be—ouch!"

"Knock it off, Lyra." Bon Bon interrupted, her voice flat as she karate-chopped Lyra on the top of her head. She then proceeded to drag the overly excited pony back to the circle. Lyra put up a futile resistance, letting out comically exaggerated cries as she lamented about just wanting to get to know the new kid.

Honestly, it’s like watching a mother pulling their daughter from a candy store…

As Lyra was being chastised and pulled away by Bon Bon, a deep male voice chimed in. It belonged to The Toffee's captain, Big Mac. "Say, sis. Didn't you mention Amelia was from Ponyville? I've never seen her before, and I know everypony around these parts." the red stallion asked, his lime-green eyes shifting over to Amelia.

Inwardly, Amelia panicked. What could she respond to that? She could say she was new here, which wasn't entirely a lie, but then he would undoubtedly ask about her previous town. That presented a problem because she didn't know any other towns or villages in this world other than Ponyville. Unless...

"Well, that's because I've recently moved in with my big sister in Ponyville, Fluttershy. I was expelled from my previous school for getting into a fight, so I've been transferred to Ponyville’s School. So yeah…” Amelia provided her carefully crafted explanation, laughing nervously in hopes that it would satisfy his curiosity.

"Oh, well, it’s nice to meet you, Amelia.” Big Mac responded with a smile, prompting Amelia to breathe a sigh of relief and return the smile.

"It's nice to meet you too, captain!" she replied cheerfully.

"Hey! I got a question for ya, amigo!" Minuette suddenly perked up, making Amelia mentally cry on the inside. Amelia already knew what the question was. "What the hell were ya doing in my casa tonight, huh? Breaking down my bathroom door while I'm in the shower, acting all macho, huh?" And there it was, Amelia's blush was brighter than the brightest apple on the tree.

How did it come to this?

Applejack glanced down at her watch, realising that it was time to shift focus. She spoke with a tone that blended firmness and ease. "Alright, folks, let's wrap up the questioning for tonight.” she announced. "It's time to dive into some drills. If you could kindly follow the coaches' instructions, we'll get started with the warm-up." Applejack said dismissively, leaving no room for an answer or another question. As ordered, the players complied with Applejack's demands, following the coaches to where the cones were laid out. Amelia went to follow but once again, Applejack got in her way.

“Not you, Amelia. You’ll be doing some individual training and will be assessed on your fitness and your abilities.”

Typical…

Two individuals approached, standing alongside Applejack in the meeting. One of them was a young pony, just about Amelia's age and matching her height. She exuded a contagious smile and her eyes shimmered with a sense of wonder and joy, piquing Amelia's curiosity. In her right hand, she held a clipboard that seemed oddly endearing. A small smile formed on Amelia's face as she saw a friendly character in her age group. She wondered if they could hit it off and become friends.

The young pony sported a red flannel buttoned-up shirt, giving her a casual Texan vibe. This was complemented by her blue jeans and brown leather boots, which added a touch of elegance, almost resembling a cowgirl. If she were to don a Stetson hat and chew on a strand of wheat, she could easily be mistaken for Applejack herself.

The other individual was significantly older, lacking the same level of cuteness as the younger pony. The scent of smoke lingered around him, and he coughed with the unmistakable sound of a smoker. Holding a fist to his lips, he wheezed as smoke rose from the tip of the cigarette resting between them. He resembled a grumpy arl grandad. Yet, Amelia could perceive the depth of experience in his eyes. She wasn't sure if they would get along, as she had never been particularly fond of older people, especially when they eyed her like that.

This older pony sported a classic newsboy cap in grey, paired with a grey tweed suit featuring standard notch lapels. He wore a collar shirt with blue stripes beneath a waistcoat adorned with six buttons and four pockets. An oversized overcoat in navy and black, with wide peak lapels, was thrown over his attire. Classic black cap-toe shoes completed his ensemble. There was no doubt that he was an old-timer through and through.

“Amelia, before we begin, I’d like you to meet a couple of ponies. This little firecracker here is my assistant and my younger sister, Applebloom. She’ll be assessing all aspects of your fitness.” Applejack introduced, playfully messing up Applebloom’s red hair, which Applebloom promptly swatted away. Following their sisterly banter, Applebloom offered Amelia a brisk wave.

“Hey!” Applebloom greeted, her Western drawl echoing Applejack’s, confirming their sibling relationship.

“Hey.” Amelia returned the greeting, instinctively reciprocating the wave.

“My big sis has been chatting about you, and I was curious to see what the fuss was about. Is it true you’re aiming to be a goalkeeper?” Applebloom inquired, leaning in as her eyes scrutinised Amelia’s physique. Her attention primarily focused on Amelia’s arms and legs, prompting her to poke and prod various parts of Amelia’s frame. Caught off guard, Amelia stiffened in response to the sudden inspection.

Applebloom doesn’t believe in personal space… Got it.

Poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke.

“Yes, that’s why I have these gloves on.”

Poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke.

“Interestin’, intrerstin’… say, I never seen those gloves before, they looked customised, where did you get them?”

Poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke.

“Oh, uhhh… My—dad got me them?”

Poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke, poke!

Yeah, this is getting old real quick…

“Alright, Applebloom. That’s enough, stop harassin’ the poor pegasus.” Applejack smirked, watching as Applebloom’s finger was about to poke an irritated Amelia’s shoulder. Applebloom stopped just in time to notice that Amelia’s eyes were shut, her eye twitching with a faint blush on her face.

“Oh! I’m sorry. I must have overdone it on the assessing part. I just can’t wait to get started!” Applebloom exclaimed, stepping back to give Amelia her space which she was thankful for. Now she can actually untense her muscles.

“Pfft! Remind me, AJ. Why is it that you think this filly is suited to be a goalkeeper? She is a pegasus for crying out loud. This is a waste of time…” The old man suddenly murmured, turning away and about to walk off with his hands in his coat pocket, but Applejack’s hand landed on his shoulder stopping him. Amelia could hear Applejack whispering to him about something, but Amelia couldn’t pick up what she was saying. The old fart looked surprised at what Applejack Said, turning to her then snapped her neck to Amelia, an inquisitive look in his eyes.

What’s with that look all of a sudden?

The staring didn’t last long however as he shook his head, taking the ciggy out from between his lips and exhaling a load of smoke, flicking the ash off the end before inserting it back between his lips. “Doesn’t matter, AJ. She is still a pegasus. The idea of having a pegasus in goal is laughable, and you have yourself to blame when it doesn’t work out.” The old man grumbled, shrugging off Applejack’s hand as he continued to walk off.

“What the hell is his problem?” Amelia glared, crossing her arms.

“Don’t worry about him, he’s more of a traditional kinda coach, old fancied in the system of things. A pegasus is an attacking player, you are quick, has stamina, has a sharp eye for goal and a few other things that make up a great striker or winger. For him to see you in goal, he just sees wasted potential.” Applebloom said, watching the old geezer walk off.

Amelia's tolerance for the bias against her was wearing thin, causing her to scoff in frustration. Despite being a pegasus, she was steadfast in her decision to become a goalkeeper. Amelia didn't care about the skepticism of others. She was fully aware of the hard work and challenges that came with the role. Her life had been dedicated to this singular goal, pushing her body beyond its known limits and perfecting her skills to become a standout goalkeeper.

Why should she give up all her progress and determination just because she had wings? Others' views didn't matter to her. Amelia was on a path to become a goalkeeper, whether others agreed with it or not. She refused to be mediocre or just another player. She was aiming to be among the best, if not the best goalkeeper there was. Her ambition was steadfast and she was prepared to face any challenges that came her way. This was her dream, her goal, and she was determined to achieve it.

“Well, it looks like it’s just you two for now. Applebloom, I trust you know what you are doing, and Amelia, I want you to show your fitness levels, it’s important to know what you are capable of health-wise so don’t hold back.” Applejack encouraged, holding up a thumbs-up. “In the meantime, I’ll speak—well, argue with Grind Duster about training Amelia.” With a sigh, Applejack headed towards the grumpy old pony who had been identified as Grind Duster.

"Wait, Applejack!" Amelia's voice rang out, causing Applejack to halt in her tracks and turn around with a quizzical expression.

"Yes? What's the matter?" she responded, her eyes meeting Amelia's.

"This isn't all I'll be doing, is it?" Amelia asked, a hint of worry seeping into her tone. She hoped this wasn't merely an individual task.

Applejack, however, quickly assuaged Amelia's concerns with a reassuring smile. "Don't worry, you'll have plenty of opportunities to show your capabilities.” Applejack promised, before she turned and continued on her way. Amelia huffed in relief, happy to have time to show off. Yet again, showing her fitness levels right now is equally as important as showing her skills on the pitch, can’t exactly play footy while fat, now can ya? Well—you can but… you won’t get far… cos you're fat!

Suddenly, Amelia felt a tight squeeze around her middle that made her lose her breath. Her wings flared out in surprise as something pressed against her back and a weight settled on her right shoulder. It felt like someone was hugging her from behind, a notion confirmed by the sound of a giggle that reached her ears from over her shoulder. "Wow, strong core, lean body, toned muscles, you've really taken good care of yourself, Amelia.” Applebloom's voice praised. The grip around Amelia's waist loosened enough for her to glance over her shoulder, and sure enough, it was Applebloom. She was resting her chin on Amelia's shoulder, offering a sweet smile as she tilted her head slightly.

CUUUUUUUUUTE!!! She had been practising.

"Uhh, personal space—please…" Amelia stammered out, her face flushing a deep shade of red. The sudden physical contact had caught her off guard, making her feel exceedingly embarrassed.

Applebloom turned a shade of red herself, hastily letting go and stepping back from Amelia. She rubbed the back of her head awkwardly, stammering out, “Oh, sorry again… It’s just—your body structure is—very interestin’… your legs, your arms… I can’t quite figure it out.” Applebloom muttered, taking another step back and scrutinising Amelia’s physique once more. Her finger tapped her chin thoughtfully as she added, "Are you deformed?"

"Rude!" Amelia retorted, her eyebrows arching in surprise.

"I'm sorry but, look at your arm!" Applebloom exclaimed, grabbing Amelia’s arm and straightening it out to illustrate her point. “See, your arm doesn’t just straighten, it bends slightly in the opposite direction like it's broken, but you don't look like you're in any pain. How does that work?" Applebloom demanded, her voice filled with confusion as she examined Amelia’s arm from all angles.

Wait… Has she never seen a double-jointed arm before?

Amelia couldn't contain her laughter any longer, causing Applebloom to finally tear her gaze away from Amelia's arm. "Haven't you ever seen a double-jointed pers—pony before?"

"Double—jointed?" Applebloom repeated, her head tilting in obvious confusion.

"Yes! Don't ask me why my arms are like this, I have no idea. But hey! Check this out!" Amelia said, a playful lightness entering her voice in response to Applebloom's innocent curiosity. She removed her right glove and proceeded to bend her middle finger all the way back. Applebloom's face, however, blanched at the sight of the finger bending more than what seemed natural. She quickly reached out and grabbed Amelia's hand to stop her.

"Stop! You're going to break it! Are you trying to injure yourself?" Applebloom scolded, her eyes wide with concern.

"No-no, that finger has already been broken before, I’m just showing you how flexible it is. See!" Amelia interjected, attempting to free her hand from Applebloom's grip to demonstrate again.

"Don’t! I don’t like seeing stuff like that!" Applebloom protested, her face contorting in discomfort at the sight of Amelia's unusually flexible finger. Amelia, on the other hand, found Applebloom's reaction amusing and couldn't help but grin at her expense.

"Don’t be silly, there’s nothing to worry about. I don’t even have any feeling in that finger anyways. Look!"

"Noooooo!”